For the first time in more than a decade Serena Williams will be playing at the WTA Tier 1 tournament in Indian Wells. Serena ended her 14-year (yes, you read right) boycott of the BNP Paribas Open, a Premier event set in the California city, which she last played and won in 2001.
The Williams sisters have not played at Indian Wells since they were taunted during the final between Serena and Kim Clijsters, who is now retired. Just to put things in perspective, Roger Federer, who now holds the men’s record for the most Grand Slams in history, hadn’t won his first yet!
Reason for boycott
Venus and Serena were set to play each other in the semifinal of the tournament, but Venus pulled out of the match citing an injury. However, tournament officials didn’t inform fans of the withdrawal until moments before the match was set to begin. This didn’t sit well with many who thought the sisters were deliberately trying to avoid playing each other.
Throughout the final, Serena, who was raised in California, was treated to boos by her home crowd. Venus Williams, who watched from the stands, was also booed when she entered the arena. The Williams’ camp also alleged that they were treated to racial taunts from the crowd and, citing a lack of support from tournament officials, vowed to never return to Indian Wells.
Change of heart
Serena changed her mind, referencing the tour’s increasing progress made toward attitudes. In a self-penned article for Time Magazine she said the support she and Venus received from the WTA and USTA, after the head of the Russian Tennis Federation made racially insensitive and sexist comments about the sisters, was a contributing factor in reaching her decision.
“I’m fortunate to be at a point in my career where I have nothing to prove,” Williams said in the article. “I’m still as driven as ever, but the ride is a little easier. I play for the love of the game. And it is with that love in mind, and a new understanding of the true meaning of forgiveness, that I will proudly return to Indian Wells in 2015.”
At a recent in-store appearance at Tennis Express, Venus voiced her support for her sister’s decision, but said she hasn’t made a decision to play the tournament.
As a tennis fan, it’s always exciting watching Serena play. But the prospect of watching her play a tournament for the first time in nearly 15 years is even more thrilling. She’ll no doubt dazzle with her level of play, but as always, you can expect her to bring her ‘A’ game in style as well.
Serena’s cutout back Australian Open tunic drew a lot of buzz when she first stepped on the court wearing it. While she won’t be rocking that outfit, you’ll likely see her in a more toned down version of the tunic.
The NIKE Women’s Slam Tennis Tunic with the NIKE Women’s Slam Printed Tennis Short are just what you need to transition into the warmer spring climate. With its racerback design, you can highlight your toned arms and powerful shots just like Serena. The short offers superior comfort and coverage without being bulky or distracting. When paired together, this combo gives you a sleek, winning look.
Serena’s been known to rock a Capri pant on the court, so I won’t be surprised to see her this spring in the flashy NIKE Women’s Slam Printed Tennis Capri with the zippered side pocket for ball storage. It’s incredibly stretchy and comfortable. Plus it’s perfect for playing all-year round.
Spring weather can often be unpredictable. One day it’s nice and sunny outside and the next is chilly. This NIKE Women’s Baseline Half-Zip Tennis Top takes care of that half-and-half feeling you get when you’re not quite cold, yet not so warm. Its contoured seams give that extra mobility you need to go for that power shot down the line.
Every tennis player needs a cool visor like the NIKE Women’s Featherlight 2.0 Tennis Visor and it’s no different with Serena, who you might catch swapping out her bandanna for the visor in a bright citrus color.
So what do you think about Serena Williams return to Indian Wells? Let us know your thoughts through the comment box.