Serena Williams [VIDEO] is ready to return to Grand Slam Tennis after having given birth and have been on maternity leave. Since she has been away from tennis for 16 months, French Open organizers announced on Monday they will not give her a seeding. That means she cannot return with the top ranking that she had before she gave birth.

Tennis officials are treating her absence for pregnancy and maternity leave the same as an injury and illness. Without a seed, the 23-time Grand Slam champion could face highly ranked players in the early rounds. If the organization had given her a seed, she would not face the best competitors until later in the competition.

The French Open draw will be made on Thursday. The tournament starts on Sunday.

The ranking

When the three-time French Open champion left tennis to have a baby, she was at the top of the rankings. When she returns to the sport, her rank will be No. 453. The French Tennis Federation said in a statement to the Associated Press on Monday, May 21 that Williams will not return with the same rank she had before she became a mother. It will be her first major event since giving birth to her daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian, last September.

USA Today says Serena is being punished for having a baby.

The newspaper added that's the only way to see the decision for not giving her a seed for the French Open.

Past rank

Williams has 23 Grand Slam titles. When she left for maternity leave, she was ranked No. 1 after having just won the Australian Open. Some of her fellow competitors don't think the ruling is fair, and they are in support of Williams being seeded. Maria Sharapova is one who believes Williams should keep her past rank and should be seeded.

Sharapova and Williams have not been the best of friends. Sharapova has lost three Grand Slams to Williams. Even so, the Russian professional tennis player thinks the decision of the French Open and WTA officials is wrong. Elina Svitolina, who ranked fourth in the Italian Open last Sunday, is also supportive of seeding Williams.

Some of Serena's biggest rivals feel the same way and would like to see the rule changed. It is currently under review for 2019. If it is changed, it will not help Serena's situation this year. However, it could help others.

As of now, there are several women tennis players who took a leave of absence and plan to return. Kim Clijsters is returning after having her first child. Victoria Azarenka was No. 1 in 2012. She returned to the tour this month. Sania Mirza, a three-time Grand Slam champion in doubles, will return after having her baby in October.