She is only ranked 183rd in the world, but Serena Williams has been seeded 25th for next week’s Wimbledon Championships after taking time off to have a baby.
The seven-time champion, who missed last year’s event while pregnant, has played only three tournaments in the past 12 months but has been handed a favorable seed by Wimbledon organizers.
The All England Club usually follows the women’s WTA world rankings, but reserves the right to change seedings — the top 32 players in the draw.
The aim of seeds is to produced a balanced draw, so in theory the top two players would come from either side of the draw and only meet in the final.
World No.1 Simona Halep, the French Open champion, is seeded first ahead of Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark. On the men’s side, eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer is top seed ahead of recently crowned 11-time French Open winner Rafael Nadal.
Williams’ seeding means she will not have to face another seeded player until the third round.
She is seeded one place below Russia’s Maria Sharapova, who is also on the comeback trail after missing 15 months for a drugs ban.
Women’s world No.32 Dominika Cibulkova said earlier this week “it would not be fair” if she misses out on a seeding at the expense of a lower-ranked player.
The 36-year-old Williams, the winner of 23 grand slam titles, gave birth to a daughter in September.
Williams withdrew with a pectoral injury ahead of her fourth-round match against old rival Sharapova at the French Open earlier this month.
Rules for the men’s draw are governed by ATP Tour world rankings, meaning Britain’s Andy Murray is unseeded after returning from hip surgery.
Murray, a former world No. 1 and two-time Wimbledon champion, has dropped to 156 in the rankings.