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Tuesday, June 26, 2018

maternity leave ! ~ Wimbledon seeding ~ John Mcenroe speaks

The Central Government passed the Maternity Benefit Act in 1961 applying to every establishment in India. While the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act came as a relief to the working women of India, it is not going down well with many firms for whom the cost of six-month paid maternity leave is difficult to afford. This had led to job losses for women, estimated at 1.2 crore across sectors, in FY19, reports The Times of India.A TeamLease report estimates a net job loss of 11-18 lakh women for the fiscal year 2018-19. This is over and above the average annual attrition rate of women employees in the workforce.

Come July ~ the focus shifts to Tennis and to Wimbledon, more specific, the grass court tournament.  The 2018 Wimbledon Championships  would be played at  All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in Wimbledon, London, United Kingdom. The main draw will commence on Monday 2 July 2018 and is due to finish on Sunday 15 July 2018.Roger Federer is the defending champion in the Gentlemen's singles and has won the event eight times in his career. Garbiñe Muguruza is the defending champion in the Ladies' singles.

Fifty years ago Wimbledon defied the wishes of the International Lawn Tennis Federation and ushered in a lucrative new era of professional grand slam tennis.  Rod Laver, returning to the All England Club after a five-year enforced absence, picked up £2,000 from a total tournament prize fund of £26,150 for winning his third men's singles title, while women's winner Billie-Jean King had to settle for just £750.It is small change compared to the £2.25million each of the singles winners of Wimbledon 2018 will pocket, but it was the relatively low-key initiation of the open era in 1968 which paved the way for such an abundance of riches.  Till then, the ITF had resolutely refused to let professional players compete in grand slams, leading to an increasing number of top players pursuing their own rival tour, a situation which the Lawn Tennis Association among others recognised as unsustainable.

Wimbledon 1968 thus became the second grand slam tournament, after the French Open that same year, to permit professionals, although the first few years of the open era would be hit by frequent boycotts by professionals who did not consider the prize money sufficient.Laver beat Tony Roche in straight sets to underline his status as the world's best player, having come through a different test in the fourth round against Britain's Mark Cox, who took a set off the Australian before folding.  Billie Jean King  won her third consecutive title with a win over Judy Tegart. King had beaten British fourth seed Ann Jones in the quarter-finals, but young fifth seed Virginia Wade had suffered a shock first-round exit to Christina Sandberg.

The change marked a major breakthrough for the sport but its top stars would still have to be patient. It was another six years until the men's Wimbledon champion would take home a five-figure sum, while the women's winner had to wait two further years. In 2018, both will collect £2.25million out of a tournament prize fund of £34million.King and Laver will be this year's 'chairman's special guests' at Wimbledon, organisers have announced, as the tournament takes the opportunity to mark the significant anniversary.

Besides the fact it is the biggest and most prestigious tournament in the world of tennis, Wimbledon brings a unique feature in calculating the seeds as well, with the results on the grass playing a major factor in player's position among the favorites.By the regular ranking, Rafael Nadal would have been the number 1 seed after passing Roger Federer on the ATP list (Roger failed to defend 500 points in Halle) but it will be an eight-time champion Federer as the first man on the list of seeds for the seventh time in his career and the first since 2010! Nadal had to skip Queen's and he travels to London with no pre-Wimbledon tournament in his schedule, hoping for a first good run at Wimbledon since 2011 when he lost in the final.Queen's champion and last year's Wimbledon finalist Marin Cilic will be the third seed in front of Alexander Zverev, Juan Martin del Potro, Grigor Dimitrov, Dominic Thiem and Kevin Anderson, who complete the Top 8 spots.

The official draw and seeding for Wimbledon 2018 will be determined on June 29 but two of tennis' premiere grass court players — Roger Federer and Serena Williams — are already the clear favorites for the tournament.Federer reacquired the ATP No. 1 seed in his return from a two-month break and sits as the heavy favorite in the men's draw to win a second consecutive Wimbledon title and his record ninth at the All England Club. In the women's draw, it's Serena Williams as the favorite to win the grass court Grand Slam. The seven-time Wimbledon champion is still working her way back after taking a break for the birth of her daughter and though the question still remains as to whether or not she'll be seeded, Williams is always a threat at any tournament. Two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova figures to be an early favorite and defending champ Garbine Muguruza sits with solid odds to win back-to-back titles at the All England Club as well.

Seeding at the Wimbledon Championships is not determined in quite the same way as at other tennis tournaments. Instead of being based solely on the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) Entry System Position, seeding at Wimbledon for the men’s singles takes into account grass court performance. Thus seeding will not necessarily be in the same order as the 32 highest ranked players.In tennis tournaments and other sports, the better-performed individual players and teams are seeded so as to protect them from early elimination. If the names of all 128 men (or women) in the singles draw at Wimbledon were placed in a barrel and names drawn at random, two top ranked players might play each other in the first round, knocking one out. Much lower ranked participants would have a reasonable chance of advancing through the rounds and reaching the finals without meeting a really good player.

To try and reduce such inequities, the names of the 32 highest ranked men and 32 women are arranged in the draw in such as way that none of them will play one another until the third round. The top 16 seeds will not meet until the fourth round, the top eight before the quarters, the highest four until the semis, and the top two seeds cannot meet until the final. The other 96 entrants’ names are drawn from the barrel and fill the remaining places, such that no seeded player has another seeded player in their initial group of four who meet in the first two rounds. The system is never completely fair as the 33rd ranked player could meet the top seed in the first round, and the person ranked 32nd could play a qualifier.

Wimbledon takes the ATP rankings as at mid June and then, unlike other tournaments, makes some adjustments. Firstly, it doubles the points that players have earned in grass court tournaments over the previous year. Secondly, it multiplies by 1.75 the points earned on this surface 1-2 years ago. These ‘bonus’ points are added to the normal ATP points from other tournaments to arrive at revised total points and new rankings. This listing determines the order of the 32 seeds.The arguments behind the different system of seeding players at Wimbledon is because the tournament is played on grass and if a player has excelled on grass at other events, then he should be entitled to a higher seeding than his position in the ATP rankings.

Curiously, the women’s seeding is not adjusted for grass court performances. Here the seeds are based on the Women’s Tennis Association rankings, although changes may be made depending on the view of Wimbledon’s Committee of Management. For example, in 2009, an adjustment was made for 2004 winner Maria Sharapova who had been out injured for nine months and she became the 24th seed.John McEnroe has added his weight to those calling for Serena Williams to have a privileged draw position for Wimbledon when the seedings are announced on Wednesday.Williams is currently ranked 183 in the world and has a 5-2 match record this year following her return to the tour after giving birth in September last year.

The 36-year-old had a daughter - named Alexis - with husband and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.   John McEnroe believes that she deserves favourable treatment, even if it means that the world No 32 would be bumped off the list of seeds, and be at the mercy of the draw when it comes to pulling a first round opponent.      The rules are somewhat grey in this area, and last month the All England Club had to scramble to reach a position with the Women's Tour Association about what could be done.Ultimately it was decided that the committee should have a fall back position of using 'discretion' about where she should end up.'I'd put her somewhere between 1 and 10, 1 and 16 at the worst,' said McEnroe, who will be commentating for the BBC during the big fortnight.'I don't think there would be a player that would complain, especially the top ones, if she was one of the top eight. Why in the world would they want to play her in the first, second, third round? Nor should they, in my opinion.'

When asked whether this would be fair on the world No 32 - currently looking like Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova - he was typically blunt. 'Forget the fact that she has won 23 Majors and what she brings to the table. I'm sorry, I apologise to the 32nd player in the world. That's just the way it goes sometimes. I just don't think it's right to think that way. That's me coming from a different viewpoint.'Former world No 4 James Blake, meanwhile, said Serena should not be 'punished' for going on maternity leave.  Serena was absent in 2017 but had won 2016 & 2015.While Serena has been keen to emphasise that 'pregnancy is not an injury', opinion has appeared divided among the players about whether or not she should get special treatment.

There is no argument about whether she should be allowed to get straight into the tournament, as rules are already in place for her to claim a protected ranking for entry purposes.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
26th June 2018.

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