In a first person story to Time Magazine, Serena Williams announced that she will return to the Indian Wells event this March.
Serena and her sister, Venus, were booed when they last played in 2001, and since vowed never to return. But the younger Williams wrote why she has now changed her mind.
I have thought about going back to Indian Wells many times over my career. I said a few times that I would never play there again. And believe me, I meant it. I admit it scared me. What if I walked onto the court and the entire crowd booed me? The nightmare would start all over.
It has been difficult for me to forget spending hours crying in the Indian Wells locker room after winning in 2001, driving back to Los Angeles feeling as if I had lost the biggest game ever—not a mere tennis game but a bigger fight for equality. Emotionally it seemed easier to stay away. There are some who say I should never go back. There are others who say I should’ve returned years ago. I understand both perspectives very well and wrestled with them for a long time. I’m just following my heart on this one.
I’m fortunate to be at a point in my career where I have nothing to prove. 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.
Serena was just 19 at the time.
2015 will be Serena’s fourth trip to the Indian Wells event. The 2-time champion there has a 14-1 record at the event winning the title in her last appearance in 2001 and also in 1999 when she beat Steffi Graf.
This was the scene just before the start of the 2001 Indian Wells final.
As a world No. 1 and one of the most recognizable athletes on the planet and with roots in nearby Los Angeles, Serena will be a massive draw for the women’s event and a boost for owner Larry Ellison.
Venus, however, hasn’t announced her intention on playing the tournament.
Indian Wells begins March 11.
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