The big news in American tennis this week was the announcement by Serena Williams that she will be returning to Indian Wells this March to compete in the BNP Paribas Open, a tournament she has boycotted for over a decade since a racially charged booing incident in 2001. Here is a timeline of her career at the event:
1997: Serena Williams plays at the Indian Wells Tennis Tournament for the first time at age 16. Though she lost in the first qualifying round in the singles event, she and her sister Venus Williams reached the doubles quarterfinals! They would manage another quarterfinal run in 1998.
1999: Serena claims the BNP Paribas Open title, defeating the legendary Steffi Graf of Germany (whose 22 Grand Slam titles still bests Serena by 3!). This was the biggest victory of her young tennis career.
2001: Questionable to many, Venus Williams withdrew from an enticing semifinal match against Serena just 20 minutes before they were set to start play in Indian Wells. As Serena entered the ensuing final (where she would defeat Kim Clijsters for her second title), fans reigned boos down towards her. Venus and their father Richard were also booed as they entered the stands. Following the match, the Williams’ claimed to have heard racist shouts from the predominantly white crowd, and they vowed never to return again…
2014: Serena puts her name down on the BNP Paribas Open entry list, sparking widespread speculation that the boycott would end. However, several weeks before the tournament she withdrew, citing a back injury.
2015: Serena has officially announced that she will be returning to Indian Wells! It will surely be an incredible site to see her return after more than a decade and will make for a very successful tournament! Watch her official announcement below:
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