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What are Wimbledon seedings and why does it matter where returning mother Serena Williams is ranked?

Serena Williams withdrew from the French Open this year due to injury. Photo: PA

Serena Williams’ return to Wimbledon as a mother has raised the complicated topic of tennis seedings in the news.

Here’s everything you need to know about how players are ranked and why it’s different for men and women…

First of all what are ‘seedings’?

Seedings are awarded to the top 32 players. Credit: PA

With Wimbledon around the corner, seedings are awarded to the top 32 men and women competing in the two-week tournament.

When the draw is made for all the first round matches, giving the players rankings mean that the top competitors won’t have to face each other until much later in the competition.

But the seedings also look to reward players who have performed best on the grass compared to the other surfaces like hardcourts and clay.

How are seedings decided for men and women?

The traditionally titled Gentlemen’s Singles are based from the world rankings and players' recent form on grass court tournaments.

So, the top 32 players on the Association of Tennis Professionals’ (ATP) ranking list are slightly shaken up to boost the players who have done best in the last two years on grass.

However it’s different for the Ladies’ Singles.

That follows the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) ranking list but with the possibility of the committee intervening to change the order to produce a more ‘balanced’ draw.

Why was Serena Williams’ seeding a talking point?

The seven-time Wimbledon champion's world ranking has fallen to no.183. Credit: PA

Heading into the tournament Serena plummeted in the rankings to 183 after taking time away from the sport since having her daughter in September.

But this meant the organisers could intervene to help the seven-time Wimbledon champion.

The US tennis star withdrew from the French Open earlier this year due to injury but the seeding committee have decided to keep her on the list.

So where is Serena ranked?

World no.32 Dominika Cibulkova has now been pushed off the seeding list and could face any player. Credit: PA

Serena Williams has been seeded no.25 which pushed world no.32 Dominika Cibulkova off the seeding list so she could face any player.

The American has called for the rules on seeding to be reviewed to protect women who want to become mothers during their playing days.

"I think and I hope - and it should be under review - to change these rules. Maybe not in time for me, but for the next person," she said.

"Maybe she's 25 and she wants to have a baby, but she doesn't want her career to be over. She wants to continue to play. So I think it's important to have those rules reviewed.”

Where is Andy Murray seeded?

Andy Murray failed to be seeded this year. Credit: PA

Andy Murray has not been seeded this year because he has fallen so far down the rankings after taking so many months out with a hip injury.

He is currently ranked by the ATP at no.156 on the eve of the tournament, which is higher than Serena’s relative ranking in the women’s world list.

If he does play though it doesn’t rule him out as a potential winner.

Both Boris Becker and Goran Ivanisevic have won the Gentlemen’s Singles unseeded and eleven players have also reached the final unseeded.

Who is seeded top?

Despite being ranked world no.2, Roger Federer leads for the Gentlemen's Singles. Credit: PA

Eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer leads for the Gentlemen’s Singles this year despite being ranked world no.2 after Rafael Nadal because of his better recent record on grass.

This year’s French Open champion Simona Halep has been seeded no.1 in the Ladies’ Singles with Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark in at no.2.

Kyle Edmund and Johanna Konta are the highest ranked British players, both seeded at no.22 in the men and women’s draw respectively.