On Wednesday, world No. 1 Serena Williams announced her long awaited return to Indian Wells following a 14-year absence from the tournament.
Williams vowed never to return to the event after being ferociously booed at the 2001 final against Kim Clijsters, after sister Venus withdrew from the match hours before the final. Her return to the event this year would have marked a significant step in a potential reconciliation between the two parties.
From her article on TIME:
“Thirteen years and a lifetime in tennis later, things feel different. A few months ago, when Russian official Shamil Tarpischev made racist and sexist remarks about Venus and me, the WTA and USTA immediately condemned him. It reminded me how far the sport has come, and how far I’ve come too.”
“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 hinted at a possible return to the event during the 2014 Australian Open, after watching a movie about the late South African President Nelson Mandela, and became inspired by his message of reconciliation. However, she withdrew ahead of the tournament, and now it looks like 2015 will be the year of reconciliation.