Tennis stars mourn sister as man is held over killing

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The Independent US

Police in California confirmed yesterday that they had arrested a man in connection with the killing at the weekend of the oldest sister of the tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams. They said that two other men were being investigated but no further arrests had been made.

The killing of Yetunde Price, 31, has shocked the tennis circuit and saddened fans of the Williams sisters worldwide. Both Serena and Venus had abandoned their schedules and travelled to California yesterday to be with family members.

Ms Price was a half-sister of Serena and Venus. But friends said that she had been considered a full sibling by the tennis stars all their lives and had served as a role model for them as they grew up. A registered nurse and the owner of a beauty salon, she also served as a personal manager to both the players. The family said in a statement: "She was our nucleus and our rock. She was personal assistant, confidante, and adviser to her sisters, and her death leaves a void that can never be filled. This is the saddest day of our lives."

Ms Price, who assumed the maiden name of her mother when she divorced her father, was shot during an altercation on a street in the town of Compton, just south of Los Angeles, in the early hours of Sunday morning. She died from bullet wounds to the torso in hospital several hours later.

Police said the man in custody had been identified as Aaron Michael Hammer of Compton. He was jailed without bond pending further investigation. Also in custody yesterday was the man who was with Ms Price in a white sports utility vehicle at the time of the shooting. He was named as Rolland Wormley, aged 28. He was arrested because he was on parole. Being at the scene of a violent crime was apparently a violation of that parole.

Mr Wormley was not hurt in the attack and drove Ms Price to a relative's house while she bled from her wounds. She was rushed from there straight to a hospital.

There was no information on the nature of Mr Wormley's criminal record, or of his relationship with Ms Price.

The five sisters were extremely close. Yetunde, Isha, a lawyer and singer, and Lyndrea, an actress and singer, could often be seen in stadium guest boxes and in hotels with Venus and Serena. The tennis players are the only offspring of the second marriage of their mother, Oracene, to Richard Williams.

"They don't regard themselves as half-sisters, they regard themselves as sisters," said Raymone Bain, a publicist for Serena. "The five girls are each other's best friends."

Ms Price, who was divorced with three children of her own, most recently worked for her younger sisters during the Wimbledon tournament this year in England.

The leafy boulevard in Compton where the shooting occurred, just after midnight, belies the dangers it holds, with residents reporting that gunshots can be heard in the neighbourhood almost every evening. Homes along its length invariably have bars on their windows to protect residents from crime.

There was still no word on why the argument had broken out or how it had escalating into gunfire. Witnesses said they heard several rounds of shots. An assault rifle was found nearby the scene by investigators.