French Open: Two-time winners Serena, Venus Williams handed wildcard in women's doubles draw at Roland Garros

Paris: Serena and Venus Williams were handed a wildcard into the French Open women's doubles on Thursday as the American sisters seek to add a third Roland Garros title to their triumphs in 1999 and 2010.

Venus Williams (L) and Serena Williams. AFP

Venus Williams (L) and Serena Williams. AFP

They have won 14 Grand Slam doubles as a team but since their last win together in Paris they have only featured on two further occasions at the tournament, losing in the first round in 2013 and the third round in 2016.

Serena, a three-time singles champion at the French Open, will be playing in her first Grand Slam tournament since winning the Australian Open in 2017 after which she stepped off the tour to give birth to her daughter in September.

On Thursday, she was drawn to face Kristyna Pliskova of the Czech Republic in the first round of the singles which gets underway on Sunday.

Venus starts against China's Wang Qiang.

On Monday, French Open organisers announced on Monday they will not give Williams a seeding.

"This year again, tournament officials will establish the list and ranking of the women's seeds based on the WTA ranking," the French Tennis Federation said in a statement to The Associated Press. "Consequently, (the seeds) will reflect this week's world ranking."

Williams, a three-time French Open champion, is expected to play in her first major since giving birth to her daughter in September.

While Williams can enter Roland Garros under the WTA's protected or "special" ranking rule, it's up to Grand Slam organisers to give her a seed.

While she was No 1 when she left the tour to give birth, Williams is currently ranked No 453.

Without a seeding, the 23-time Grand Slam champion risks facing highly ranked players in the early rounds.

The WTA is considering a rule change to add protected seeding for highly ranked players returning from maternity leave but the earliest that could take effect is next year.

Several of Williams' biggest rivals believe she deserves a seeding.

"I would like to see that (rule) change," Maria Sharapova said at the Italian Open last week.

"It's such an incredible effort for a woman to come back from physically, emotionally. ... There's just another whole dimension to the travel, to the experiences, to the emotions to the physicality of every single day.

"Tennis is such a selfish sport but I think when there's a child in your life you lose a little bit of that, because there's something that's so much more important," added Sharapova, who has lost three Grand Slam finals to Williams. "So, yeah, I definitely think that would be a nice change."


Updated Date: May 25, 2018 08:43 AM

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