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Serena and Venus Williams still determined to skip Indian Wells, will avoid suspension though

Venus WilliamsSerena Williams

You probably already know that Serena and Venus Williams don’t want to play at Indian Wells ever again, because they detest the tournament claiming they were booed and suffered racial abuse there in 2001.

The big problem has emerged this year, however: the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells is now a premier event and any player who declines to play one of the four premier events without a legitimate medical excuse – which the top 10 players are required to play – would be suspended for the next two premier events. So everyone was wondering how the problem with the Williams sisters would be resolved.

World No.1 Serena Williams and world No.5 Venus Williams will not play tennis at the event, but will perform promotional activities for the tournament, as new stipulations were put into place that any player declining to play an event for personal reasons would be allowed to do so under the conditions mentioned.

Therefore, the Williams sisters will avoid suspension by performing some activities, which will be determined by the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour in due course. (source: Tennis Head, photos via Tennis Channel)

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21 thoughts on “Serena and Venus Williams still determined to skip Indian Wells, will avoid suspension though

  1. Carlos

    Good for the sisters for sticking with their guns. What bother me was not the booing it was the racial insults.
    As far as I know: 1) No one has proven Williams wrong. 2) The Indian Wells tournament has not mentioned what precautions they would take, for insuring that this won't happen again (like kicking out any fan that uses racial insults and banning them for life from the tournament).
    Hate, discrimination, bigotry and intolerance SHOULD NOT BE ALLOW AT ANY TOURNAMENT and I am including the Fed Cup, it doen't matter if it comes from hardcore tennis fans, the occasional fan, or players.

  2. Marija

    It's great that the Williams sisters strongly defended their position and in some way won this whole thing. Some time ago the WTA said they were not willing to adjust the rules for individual players, but in the end they did adjust them to the Williams sister.

  3. Bróna

    Fair play to Serena and Venus for standing by their decision. Nice to see that no penalties will be imposed on them either. The only negative thing is that us fans will miss out on some great tennis from, in my opinion the two best players in the world right now.

  4. John Brimelow

    I’m a tennis fan. I’ve played for 35 years and followed the sport with enthusiasm and dedication. It’s a great game.

    I have thoroughly enjoyed watching Venus and Serena throughout their careers as they supplanted and then eclipsed many of the best players in the WTA. I applauded Venus’s very public challenge to Wimbledon to make prize money equal for men and women.

    Since the beginning of 2009 my estimation of the Williams sisters is crumbling. Ours is not a perfect world where people are seen as individuals and not pre-judged according to race or religion. Accepting this premise, I believe Venus and Serena should acknowledge they are double minorities. They have a duty to, as public figures and role models, make a stand for principles. I was disappointed with Venus and Serena’s show of apathy toward Barak Obama’s election when asked about it by the press at the year’s first major tournament in Australia.

    When Shara Peer was denied a visa to play in Dubai, I believe the WTA should have packed their collective bags and gone home. When they didn’t, it became very apparent that Larry Scott and the tour he represents are in this game largely for the money. They seem to have forgotten the games’ global charter. Did Venus sidestep Larry Scott’s wizard-like PR efforts with her words at the end of the tournament? I think not.

    How can Venus feel she’s doing the right thing while on the one hand she’s telling off tournament officials for barring Peer and in the other she’s holding her payoff for the tournament. You can’t officially take a stand unless it means something and in this case, Venus’s stand was an empty one. Interestingly, key top men’s players stayed away from the event in protest.

    I hope Venus and Serena, in addition to being great athletes, can work into their skins as role models and champions for the sport-not just the paycheck.

  5. Marija

    I understand your point, John. Venus' support for Shahar was too weak, I agree, but I wouldn't like to judge anyone because we never know what it's like being in their shoes. As for the sport, yes, it's revolving around money too much, if not completely.

  6. Carlos

    Mr. Brimelow, Nadal and Federer #1 and #2 players in the world respectively, did not compete in Dubai due to injuries; #5 Davydenko and #9 Verdasco cited injuries also. Their injuries seem to be legitimate. The only player that openly withdrew in complaint over Ms. Peer treatment was #5 Roddick.

    I remember Serena being asked on television how she felt about Mr. Barack Obama being sworn as president. She had a big smile and said, "I'm very excited". She was genuinely happy I did not see apathy from her.

    Brona I also agree with you.

  7. Apenandi

    Mr. Brimelow is masking behind those brilliantly put words.He is excited that the Williams sisters are determined to never take part in the tournament anymore.

    What has Obama's election got to do with a black tennis player? Did you want her to dance in front of the interviewing crew? And you certainly don't wanna tell me that she was apathetic.
    No black man was genuinely unhappy at this event,and certainly not the Williams family who have been perpetual targets of the white public(of course not every white).

    In Dubai,Venus wasn't the top seed and certainly could not determine how others should view Peer's exclusion.What did the other European women players do to show their solidarity?

    Did you expect Venus to actually raise a voice on an issue that not even Sarkozy could openly talk about?

    America is the only country in the world where whites can be as unpatriotic to the point of booing their compatriot and getting away with it.They will support an opponent irrespective of whether that opponent is a Russian or not.

    But they will expect Venus to make a policy statement on an issue that top world diplomats dread looking at.

  8. Apenandi

    Racism has plagued America and is still a major concern.
    No white person,group or organization can endure 0.001% of what blacks are going through in the white world today.

    Blacks have endured and overcome obstacles that whites would only resolve with bombs and missiles had they been under same circumstances.
    Stop ridiculing blacks.We are resilient a people.Sports is the only area where your restrictions did not hold water and our thriving is making you fume with anger.

    The success of these two girls will keep people like Mr. Brimelow so low in their estimation of the circumstances surrounding this black success.He doesn't understand that determination is a force that can make you scale walls laced with barbed wire.

    These two girls are living in a world that is divided and for them to get to the other side,they have to use bare hands to scale huge walls of racism and insults and abuse.

    I support them.I don't care whether they made a wrong or right decision.

  9. Drew

    No one has ever been able to prove that the racial taunts DID happen either…..not that I am condoning such abhorrent behaviour….but in their early playeing days a lot of people took exception to the Williams sisters CONSTANT complaining….anytime anything ever went wrong it was due to racism…..anytime they stubbed their toes it was because of racism…….I am glad that the tour has not made an exception for them as one rule for all players should be the code.

    As for the whole Dubai issue….Venus should have kept her mouth shut……apparently being hated because you are Jewish is not as important as being hated based on race……if she refuses to play Indian Wells due to the racism card why wasn't it good enough to do it in Dubai…..her "principles" such as they are, are only ever on display when it is convenient to her.

    Disgraceful!

  10. Cedric

    Hello. I'm French and I agree 100% that the Williams sisters boycot the tournament. We have top ranked black players here (Tsonga and Monfils) and I can't imagine one moment that the crowd sends them racial insults. What happened in Indian Wells is SCANDALOUS and the WTA should make an exception and not give any sanction to the Williams sisters for not participating. It is NORMAL to refuse to take part in a tournament when you feel you are not welcome because you received racial insults and was humiliated in the whole world (even here in France we know what happened and the TV commentators talk about it every year).

  11. Marija

    The WTA is probably afraid to adjust the rules to the Williams sisters, because other players could ask for similar things in the future for whatever reason, so the WTA decided to stick to their rules no matter what.

  12. hillstein

    I found it ironic that the WTA would implement this rule AFTER the 2001 incident. I was hoping the Williams Sisters would challenge it in court.
    Every so often, an African-American has to go to
    court to protect their rights to work. This is no
    different. Curt Flood pioneered this course and
    basically reminded us that we are no longer slaves. Challenging the "WILLIAMS RULE" on safety
    issues is another point. The fact that we have
    1) the Monica Seles Stabbing and
    2) the streaker at the Austrailian Open

    These are just two incidents that prove the WTA
    cannot protect their players, necessitating they
    take preventive steps for their safety. I am with
    the Sisters all the way, even though I miss seeing
    them play. I'll survive.

  13. adelaide duncan

    adelaide march 21, 2009

    I just want to say how proud I am of the williams sisters for standing up their right not to play at
    indian wells. why should they subject themselves to this kind of treament.

    and so far as there being critized about not voting in the presidential election there religion
    tells them differnt. we have of"religous freedom"
    but I guess it's only for the select few.

  14. Marvin Grimes

    I am very proud of Venus and Serena. They have had great personal success in the midst of adversity, and the entire global tennis community has benefited from them. When they're playing, everything is up, ticket sales, attendance, ratings,excitement, etc…. even for the players.

    As far as Indian Wells is concerned, when a person is faced with rasism, there is no wrong way to react and everybody doesn't react the same. You have to do what's right for you.

    Also you have to pick your battles, because sometimes even if you win you lose something else.

    I support them 100%, they have truly been a blessing and have inspired lots of little girls and boys all over the world!

  15. Jeff Coale

    I enjoy, very much, watching both sisters perform and WIN on the WTA. I understand completely what happened back in 01 and agree with their decisions, however, it's time to move on. What I'd love to see is for them to return to Indian Wells and clean house, so to speak. They could, as they choose at will to at major events, walk away with both the singles and doubles titles. That, alone, would speak volumes to their many fans. To rise above what happened in 01 and come back to the Gardens and take everything home! I, for one, miss seeing them compete at the event, especially, now that it's a Premier Event.

  16. chuks oriuwa

    I would like to know what specific steps the wta taking to protect players from racial slurs.

  17. richard

    I use to be an Athlete, I competed at a high level,and can imagine what it was like, even though
    I did not experience that level of racism.The Williams are right not to go back,what would it achive? All you people saying they should go back and show them….show them what? People that are racist need to know that their racist,if the Williams were to go back to IW it would not stop people being racist,the organisers need to do something about it to show that it will not be tolerated at IW or any other sport.People talk about the Williams loosing out on prize money etc, it should not be about money.Repect to the Williams.

  18. mmlilting

    Richard, you are right. The Williams sisters do not need to show the people at Indian Wells anything because Serena already did. Despite all the booing, hissing, racial slurs and even THROWING of DEBRIS at their wonderful coach and father, Mr. Williams, Serena Williams WON that tournament at Indian Wells when she was an innocent teenager against FOREIGNER Kim Clijsters!And Venus, as a multiple grand slam champion and winner their in the Middle East was probably more effective than Andy skipping the tournament (though his gesture was well-intentioned) because he'd won considerably less than Venus had. I think Venus's stance may well have been the reason Peer got to play the next year. Btw, did any white players speak out against what happened at Indian Wells? Did any of them boycott? Kim Clijsters was PLAYING and saw it and never said a word. I know she and the rest of the world were/are SHOCKED at the way black people/citizens were/are treated in this country, though. Justine Henin told a French reporter that "Americans" don't like Serena! And that's even though Serena and Venus risked injury playing in Fed Cup for the USA for little or no remuneration and have brought back gold medals from the Olympics for the USA too. Everyone watching that match at Indian Wells on tv could see and hear the evil that was happening to innocent teenaged Serena, and it was much WORSE in person, I assure you. Serena, thank God, kept her composure, won that tournament at Indian Wells, and classily referenced the evil of the crowd (by merely saying they weren't very nice), while graciously acknowledging her opponent in the final ( foreigner Kim Clijsters), and verbally accepting the title.

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