The Women's Tennis Association put in place "further advantages for players returning from maternity leave" in the future but "stopped short of granting protected seedings," according to Vicki Hodges of the London TELEGRAPH. The issue "became a talking point last year" following Serena Williams' return six months after giving birth to daughter Olympia. While Williams was able to use her protected ranking to enter as many as eight tournaments without qualifying over a 12-month period, the 23-time grand slam champion was "not guaranteed to be seeded." The women's governing body of tennis "tweaked the ruling to offer further protection for returning mothers." In the future, players returning from maternity leave "will now be able to use their previous ranking to enter 12 tournaments over a three-year period." This ruling also applies to those returning from a long-term injury (TELEGRAPH, 12/13). The BBC's Russell Fuller reported the WTA also clarified its clothing rule to ensure Williams "is able to wear the black catsuit which caused a major stir at this year's French Open." She dedicated the outfit to mothers and said that it made her feel like a "queen from Wakanda," in reference to the film "Black Panther." The new rule states, "Leggings and mid-thigh length compression shorts may be worn with or without a skirt, shorts, or dress." But Williams will not be able to wear it at Roland Garros next year if French Tennis Federation President Bernard Giudicelli "gets his way." He has pledged to introduce a stricter dress code and said that "the outfit will no longer be accepted" (BBC, 12/13).
Leagues and Governing Bodies
World No. 1 and ATP Player Council President Novak Djokovic emailed his peers to "encourage an appeal" against an Int'l Tennis Federation rule that says players must be involved in the Davis Cup to be eligible for Olympic selection. Player discontent with the revamped Davis Cup has become "so evident" that representatives of the Spanish investment group Kosmos, whose 25-year, $3B contract is behind the ITF’s "willingness to obliterate 118 years of Cup tradition," will converge on Melbourne Park in an effort to convince players to be involved (THE AUSTRALIAN, 12/13).
The Spanish Basketball League (ACB) completed the acquisition of a stake in FIBA's Basketball Champions League. FIBA owns 50% of the competition, while the other 50% belongs to the leagues whose teams participate (EP, 12/13).
The National Rugby League will "attempt to clean up the scourge of third-party deals" by "coming clean for the first time" with how much all 16 clubs receive from outside sponsors. The "unprecedented overhaul" designed to stop salary cap rorting also includes the induction of a new contract system which will require the NRL to receive every formal offer that is made to a player (Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/13).
WADA said on Wednesday that it completed an audit of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) as required following the body's conditional reinstatement. Over two days, a three-person WADA delegation inspected the premises, processes and practices of RUSADA and will file a report highlighting any issues. However, RUSADA has yet to allow WADA inspectors into the former Moscow laboratory and access the Laboratory Information Management System and underlying data (REUTERS, 12/12).