Serena Jameka Williams is an American professional tennis player who is currently ranked no. 1 in women’s singles tennis.
After 14 years, the tennis star finally speaks about the tournament that haunted her for all these years.
Here is an excerpt from her exclusive interview:
“It was March 2001 and I was 19 years old, focused on winning and being the best, both for me and for my kids. I spent most of my young years running, serving, practicing, training day in and out to achieve a dream of being the best. As a black tennis player, I looked different, served differently but when i stepped into the court, I could compete with anyone…”
“The tournament in Indian Wells held a special place in my heart as I had won my first pro match there in 1997.
When I arrived at Indian Wells in 2001, I was looking to take another title, play my best and I was ready. As I walked to the court the crowd immediately started booing and jeering. It broke me and my family. I didn’t understand what was going on in that moment. But worse, I had no desire to even win….”
“Throughout my whole career, integrity has been everything to me. The undercurrent of racism was painful, confusing and unfair. In a game I loved with all my heart at one of my most cherished tournaments I suddenly felt unwelcome, afraid and alone….”
“Fourteen years and a lifetime in tennis later, things feel different. A few months ago when Russian officer Shamil Tarpischev made racist and sexist remarks about Venus and me, the WTA and USTA immediately condemned him. It reminded me how far the sports had come, and how far I’ve come too. It has been difficult for me to forget those hours I spent in Indian Wells locker room after winning in 2001, driving back to Los Angles thinking that I had lost my biggest game ever – fight for equality….”
“I am fortunate to be at a point in my career where I have nothing to prove. I play for the love of the game. And it is that love and a new understanding of the true meaning of forgiveness, that I will proudly return to Indian Wells in 2015.
“Indian Wells was a pivotal moment of my story, and I am a part of the tournament’s story as well. Together we have a chance of writing a different ending.”
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