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The Return of the Williams Sisters to Indian Wells

Venus Williams (Yahoo Sports Images)

Venus Williams (Yahoo Sports Images)


Indian Wells kicks off Monday March 7, and for the first time since 2001, the hard court tournament will feature both Williams sisters. For more than a decade both sisters boycotted the event after they felt they were the targets of racially motivated jeers from the crowd.

In 2015, Serena Williams made her emotional return to the tournament, receiving a standing ovation in her opening match. Now the elder Williams, Venus, will follow her younger sister’s lead when she ends her embargo and returns this week.

For those unaware about the incident at Indian Wells in 2001 right before Serena and Venus were slated to face each other in the semifinals, Venus pulled out with a knee injury. Understandably, the fans at the tournament were displeased (FYI Venus and Serena blame the tournament director of Indian Wells for waiting so long to inform the fans in attendance of the withdrawal).

Many suspected Richard Williams, Venus and Serena’s father, instructed Venus to withdraw, allowing Serena to advance. This speculation is what is widely believed carried over to the final between Serena and Kim Clijsters where both sisters were wildly booed; Serena received her boos on the court, while Venus received hers with her father Richard walking to their seats.

All the members of the Williams clan also stated they heard racial slurs during this debacle.

As previously stated, Serena has since “forgiven” the crowd, allowing her to return in 2015. Venus, known as an introvert compared to her sister Serena, will do the same.

Venus opened up about her return to Indian Wells through an open letter in The Player’s Tribune. In her letter, Venus’s main reasons for returning to Indian Wells include being inspired by her sister’s willingness to forgive the incidents that occurred at the tournament in 2001 and the mere fact that she wants to be physically present to support her younger sister. Venus ends her letter by sharing advice she received from Serena about “tennis just being about tennis”. In other words, as a tennis player she just wants to do her job.

Last year it was great to see Serena return to the tournament that had been such a sore spot for her in her illustrious career. It is equally satisfying to see Venus return to rewrite the history she experienced that day at Indian Wells.

Despite the contrast in their accomplishments and the contrast in their demeanor, with the emotive Serena pulling away from big sis in grand slam totals, it is gratifying to see the sisters come together and overcome an emotional obstacle that for years forever haunted them.

Venus is sure to get the love and applause her sister Serena received last year.

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Ricardo is the lead Tennis Analyst here at
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