Sharapova supports special Grand Slam seeding for old rival Serena

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ROME: Maria Sharapova says she supports a Grand Slam seeding for longtime rival Serena Williams as the American tries to rebuild her career after giving birth nine months ago.

The Russian, who reached the semi-finals of the Italian Open on Friday with a 6-7 (6/8), 6-4, 7-5 defeat of reigning Roland Garros winner Jelena Ostapenko, showed a noticeably softer attitude towards the 36-year-old Williams with whom she has often endured a bitter, public rivalry.

Wimbledon officials are currently debating whether or not to award a wild card to the former world number one American who has won the grasscourt major seven times but is currently ranked 454th after playing only four tour matches since winning the Australian Open in 2017.

“It’s a tough call, I would like to see that change,” Sharapova, 31, said. “I think that would be nice.”

The five-time Grand Slam winner said it took “such an incredible effort” for Williams to return to the court after pregnancy.

“For a woman to come back on tour, having a child (is great).

“It’s just another whole dimension to the travel, to the experiences, to the emotions, to the physicality of every single day.”

The Russian added: “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.”

Williams stands an overwhelming 19-2 in her head-to-head series against Sharapova with the Russian’s only two victories coming in 2004.

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