Serena hails rule changes to protect mothers in tennis

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Under the new rules, returning mothers who have a special ranking that would earn them a seeded position can be drawn as an "additional seed" at tournaments, meaning they would not be able to face a seed in the opening round of a tournament.

In her morning press conference meanwhile, Williams said she welcomed the decision made by the Women's Tour Association (WTA) to offer more ranking protection to players taking maternity leave.

"I loved playing in Abu Dhabi past year, and I am excited to return to such a lovely city and see my fans", Serena said on the eve of the championship.

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In a photo provided by HBO date not provided, Serena Williams holds her daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanion Jr., in a scene from the HBO's "Being Serena", a five-part documentary series. "Women that are younger can go out there and have kids and not have to worry about it and not have to wait 'til the twilight of their years to have children and I think it's a really great rule". And a player can use her special ranking for seeding purposes at WTA events.

'I think having gone through the experience myself really opened my eyes.

Speaking at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship, Williams said equalling Margaret Court's record of 24 Grand Slam titles was a "significant" goal for 2019.

Asked if the US Open final is a topic she'd like to avoid as the new season kicks off, Serena said: "I don't avoid anything".

I was just happy to be there. That match was overshadowed by her outburst at chair umpire Carlos Ramos, whom she called a "liar" and "thief".

The 23-time Grand Slam champion will be in action against sister Venus in Abu Dhabi on Thursday in her first match since September's US Open final defeat by Japan's Naomi Osaka.

Her latest return also ended in defeat to Venus in a third set tiebreaker and she will now head to Perth in Australia to play in the Hopman Cup to complete her preparations for next month's Australian Open.