The 36-year-old American gave birth to a daughter last September and was off the tour for more than a year.
Wimbledon officials have given seven-time champion Serena Williams the No. 25 seed for its 2018 tournament, a decision that acknowledges her exemplary record on grass and, unlike last month's French Open, will not excessively penalize her for a 13-month maternity leave.
Williams, victor of 23 Grand Slam titles during her career and a seven-time women's singles champ at the All England Club, took maternity leave for the birth of her first child. She pulled out of that tournament in the fourth round because of an injury. But each of the sport's four Grand Slam events - Wimbledon and the Australian, French and U.S. Opens - has the prerogative to depart from the rankings in awarding its 32 seeds to ensure a balanced, 128-player field.
It means the 36-year-old American, victor in 2016 but absent last year because of her pregnancy, will avoid the big names until at least the third round.
Dominika Cibulkova misses out on being seeded following Williams' elevation, a decision the Slovakian said would be unfair.
"There are many perspectives to consider and there are divided views".
"To review the policy for the 2019 rulebook, the WTA has engaged its members in a dialogue to ensure all voices are heard and rule changes are reflective of what's best for everyone".
Wimbledon will release the draw on Friday. She missed Wimbledon in 2017, but won the title the last two times she was in the field, in 2015 and 2016.
She'll avoid seeds for at least the first two rounds but would have had another round's protection had she been seeded just one spot higher.
"I don't think it's the right thing to do", Cibulkova told the BBC before the seedings were released.
"I don't think that you should have a protected ranking if you have a baby because it's your choice to have that baby", Watson said.