Over the weekend, Serena Williams marked her return to Indian Wells after a 13 year boycott. In 2001, Venus and Serena were both booed by ‘fans’ and were even accused of cheating. But that wasn’t the half of it. The Williams family received racial taunts and officially stopped attending the tournament.
“When Venus and I were walking down the stairs to our seats, people kept calling me ‘nigger,” her father and coach Richard Williams said. Richard also said one man threatened him, “I wish it was ’75; we’d skin you alive.’
As Serena made her way back on the court Friday night, the standing ovation lasted over a minute. She was emotional with tears and so were members of her family. People have paid good money to see Serena back at Indian Wells. Tickets have gone for upwards of $400. Indian Wells is making a profit.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” Serena said after her second-round victory against Romania’s Monica Niculescu (7-5, 7-5) in the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. “In the last couple of moments leading up to it, I was focused on warming up for the match and I wasn’t really prepared for that. I was overwhelmed by it.”
But Indian Wells have yet to apologize.
I applaud Serena for making her return to Indian Wells, but I’m not sure I would have. The Williams sisters have been subjected to so much ridicule, not just from Indian Wells, but through tons of people during their career. The fact that two black women can dominate a sport usually known for their white athletes, still makes some people upset.
As people sit back and applaud Serena’s return, one has to wonder if Indian Wells will ever apologize on behalf of those anonymous racist people. Apologize and then thank Serena for making their pockets fatter.
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