Friday, August 12, 2022

Serena Williams, Moved by ‘Forgiveness,’ Ends Boycott of Indian Wells (Watch)

Serena Williams of the United States holds the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup during a photocall at the Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton Gardens after winning the 2015 Australian Open on February 1, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia
Serena Williams of the United States holds the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup during a photocall at the Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton Gardens after winning the 2015 Australian Open on February 1, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia

*With forgiveness on her heart, Serena Williams is ending her 13-year boycott of Indian Wells and will return to the annual tournament next month, she announced Wednesday in an exclusive column for Time.com.

After winning the tournament in 2001, Serena vowed never to return to play there because of the nasty treatment she received from fans.

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Serena Williams at Indian Wells in 2001

It all started in 2001, when she and her older sister Venus were set to play in a semifinal match. The day before, fellow player Elena Dementieva accused the sisters’ father, Richard, of deciding matches between his daughters (she later said it was a joke).

Then, four minutes before the Thursday semifinal was set to begin, Venus withdrew with an injury, leading the crowd to boo. Later, in a news conference, Venus was asked if Dementieva’s comment was true. To some fans, Venus wasn’t strong enough in denying that her father played puppet-master.

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Cut to the following Saturday when Serena was booed while battling Kim Clijsters in the final. Serena describes that moment in her Time essay.

“When I was booed at Indian Wells — by what seemed like the whole world — my voice of doubt became real. I didn’t understand what was going on in that moment. But worse, I had no desire to even win. It happened very quickly.

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“This haunted me for a long time. It haunted Venus and our family as well. But most of all, it angered and saddened my father. He dedicated his whole life to prepping us for this incredible journey, and there he had to sit and watch his daughter being taunted, sparking cold memories of his experiences growing up in the South.”

Two weeks later, Richard Williams told USA Today that the boos were racially motivated and that he had personally heard racist comments:

“When Venus and I were walking down the stairs to our seats, people kept calling me [expletive],” Williams said. “One guy said, ‘I wish it was ’75; we’d skin you alive.’ That’s when I stopped and walked toward that way. Then I realized that (my) best bet was to handle the situation non-violently. I had trouble holding back tears. I think Indian Wells disgraced America.”

Though tournament director Charlie Pasarell said he was embarrassed about the way the entire crowd acted during the final and didn’t discount Williams’ story, he said he hadn’t heard any of the racist comments.

Despite 13 years of begging from fans, sportscasters and tennis officials, Serena would not return…until now.

Watch her announcement below:

Watch Serena’s boo-filled 2001 final against Clijsters – the last Indian Wells tournament she would play in 13 years – below:

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2 COMMENTS

  1. When I saw the headline, I thought “THEY”/Indian Wells” had reached out to “HER”, hence the …”forgiveness”! But….if they haven’t said or done shyt?, then I feel Serena should…STAY the FK away!!!! Trust me, THEY NEED HUH ASS “THERE”, more than the other way around!! So fkn funny, hypocritical & sad, that “WE” always have to/are EXPECTED to… make the move or “be the bigger person”, when it’s “US”!!!!, who have been ….wronged!!! And even though she was playing a “foreigner”?!!!, , YT SIDED WITH “YT” AGAINST THE “PATRIOTIC CODE”!!! Now….you will NEVer see or have that shyt ANYwhere else, BUT “here” in the United SNAKES of America!! So again…the forgiveness should be “GIVEN TO” Serena, NOT expected FROM her!! And/so until that shyt happens?, I’d make those muthafkahs regret disrespecting my …big beautiful BLACK ass, until…..Jesus come back!!! Worrrrrd UP!!! TJBTITMFB!

    • My heart has went out to Venus and Serena for years. My eyes swell with tears often when I see them on the court showing what a true black woman is and what they can do. I can sometimes see the focus and hurt that fuel Serena to give it all she has. You’ll notice when some of the Sports Commentators/writers talk about the matter of Indian Wells CA involving Serena, they will mention the booing, but not the racial slurs. Or they will mention the booing and state Serena “claimed” there were racial slurs. I’m from the 1960s of the civil rights era and it saddens me that in the 21st century we are yet going through all this nonsense. Venus and Serena gets this racial hatred and jealousy from the crowds, other players and the sports commentators as well.

      I am not a person who envies others, but what I wouldn’t give to have these girls as my daughters; but from what I see from both of them, they have wonderful parents. My words to Venus and Serena, remember and focus on those of us who love you and talk to God in a real way on your behalf.

      As a patriotic American, I say, America, GROW UP!

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