Rome - Maria Sharapova says she supports a Grand Slam seeding for longtime rival Serena Williams as the American tries to rebuild her career after giving birth nine months ago.
The Russian, who reached the semi-finals of the Italian Open on Friday with a 6-7 (6/8), 6-4, 7-5 defeat of reigning Roland Garros winner Jelena Ostapenko, showed a noticeably softer attitude towards the 36-year-old Williams with whom she has often endured a bitter, public rivalry.
Wimbledon officials are currently debating whether or not to award a wild card to the former world No 1 American who has won the grasscourt major seven times but is currently ranked 454th after playing only four tour matches since winning the Australian Open in 2017.
"It's a tough call, I would like to see that change," Sharapova, 31, said. "I think that would be nice."
The five-time Grand Slam winner said it took "such an incredible effort" for Williams to return to the court after pregnancy.
"For a woman to come back on tour, having a child (is great).
"It's just another whole dimension to the travel, to the experiences, to the emotions, to the physicality of every single day."
The Russian added: "Tennis is such a selfish sport. But I think when there's a child in your life, you lose a little bit of that because there's something that's so much more important."
Williams stands an overwhelming 19-2 in her head-to-head series against Sharapova with the Russian's only two victories coming in 2004.