- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 15, 2011

WIMBLEDON, England  — Defending champion Serena Williams was bumped up to No. 7 in the Wimbledon seedings - 19 places above her world ranking - on Wednesday, a position that will allow her to avoid playing the highest-ranked players until at least the quarterfinals.

Williams won her 13th Grand Slam title last year at the All England Club, but stepped on broken glass and needed two foot surgeries. She later had blood clots on her lungs, and missed nearly a year of competition.

She returned Tuesday at Eastbourne, coming back from a set down to defeat Tsvetana Pironkova 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, but lost Wednesday to top-seeded Vera Zvonareva 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 7-5 in the second round.

She was originally seeded No. 8, but the withdrawal of second-seeded Kim Clijsters moved the rest of the field up one spot.

“Listen, I don’t ask for much. I would have been happy with 25, because I’m going to be in there fighting for every point and for everything,” Williams said. “It’s doesn’t matter where I’m seeded. I’m just going to give it 200 percent like everyone else in the draw.”

Wimbledon starts Monday. The draw is scheduled for Friday.

On the men’s side, defending champion Rafael Nadal was seeded No. 1, followed by Novak Djokovic at No. 2, Roger Federer at No. 3 and Andy Murray at No. 4 - in line with their rankings.

Federer and Nadal have combined for the past eight titles at the All England Club.

For Federer, it’s the first time he’s been outside the top two seedings at Wimbledon since 2003, the year he won the first of five straight titles at the grass-court Grand Slam.

Since her injury, Williams has dropped to No. 26 in the WTA rankings. If Wimbledon organizers had seeded her according to her ranking, the four-time Wimbledon champion could have come up against a top player in the third round.

Her sister Venus, a five-time Wimbledon champion, was seeded No. 24. She has dropped to 33rd in the rankings since missing most of this season with a hip injury. She also returned to action this week with two wins at Eastbourne.

“The seeding order follows the WTA ranking list, except where in the opinion of the committee, a change is necessary to produce a balanced draw,” Wimbledon organizers said. “The only changes this year are Serena Williams and Venus Williams moving to 8 and 24, respectively. This reflects the balance between their proven records and also their lack of competitive play in the past 12 months.”

The sisters have combined to win nine of the last 11 titles at the All England Club.

“I just want to be in the draw,” said Venus, who beat Ana Ivanovic 6-3, 6-2 Wednesday to reach the quarterfinals at Eastbourne. “I’m still in this tournament so that’s pretty much my focus. For me the seedings not a big deal.”

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