Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Venus to end boycott, join Serena at Indian Wells

Venus Williams
2014 photo by Paul Bauman
   Serena Williams ended her boycott of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells last year.
   Venus Williams will join her this year, tournament officials announced today.
   Venus will play at Indian Wells for the first time since an incident there 15 years ago. The BNP Paribas Open is scheduled for March 7-20.
   Controversy erupted at Indian Wells in 2001 when Venus defaulted to Serena with knee tendinitis minutes before their scheduled semifinal. Some fans thought their father, Richard, had arranged the default because he didn't want Venus and Serena to play each other.
   Two days later, the crowd booed Serena throughout her final against Kim Clijsters. Richard got into shouting matches with fans, Bill Dwyre of the Los Angeles Times reported at the time, and told reporters that the boos had been racially motivated.
   The vitriol nearly brought Serena to tears, but she won.
   Serena advanced to the semifinals at Indian Wells last year but withdrew against eventual champion Simona Halep with inflammation and pain in her right knee. Serena won the Miami title two weeks later, as did Venus in 2001.
   Venus has reached the singles final of the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford seven times, winning in 2000 and 2002. She made her pro debut in the tournament at 14 in 1994, when it was held indoors in Oakland.    
   The Williams sisters grew up in Compton, a two-hour drive west of Indian Wells in the Los Angeles area.
   Venus, 35, has won seven Grand Slam singles titles but none since Wimbledon in 2008. She was diagnosed with Sjogren's Syndrome, a chronic energy-sapping disease, in 2011.
   Seeded eighth in the ongoing Australian Open in Melbourne, Venus lost to Johanna Konta of Great Britain in the first round.

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