Australian Open 2014: Serena Williams inspired by Nelson Mandela to end Indian Wells boycott

The Williams sisters have not played there since 2001, but the world Number One admits the Mandela biopic Long Walk to Freedom has made her reconsider

The influence of Nelson Mandela has prompted Serena Williams into a rethink of her long-standing boycott of the Indian Wells tournament. Williams and her sister, Venus, have not played at the annual event, which is staged in the Californian desert in March, since a controversial incident when they were booed and jeered there 13 years ago.

Williams, who is through to the fourth round of the Australian Open after a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Daniela Hantuchova, said here that she had watched Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, a recently released film about the South Africa freedom fighter and former president, who died last month.

Asked if Mandela’s message of reconciliation might have led her to rethink her boycott of Indian Wells, Williams said: “It actually crossed my mind a couple days ago, or after I saw the movie.”

The Williams sisters have not played at Indian Wells since 2001, when Venus pulled out of a semi-final against her sister because of injury, fuelling speculation that the results of their matches against each other were  pre-determined by their father and coach, Richard. The crowd turned against Serena when the 19-year-old played the final against Kim Clijsters. Venus and Richard were also jeered by spectators.

Richard said later that some of the abuse amounted to racism. He described it as “the worst act of prejudice I’ve seen since they killed Martin Luther King” and said it got so bad that one spectator had threatened to skin him alive.

The boycott of the tournament has been to the sisters’ disadvantage. The event is mandatory for the top players, so they are awarded zero ranking points for not playing it. They are also required to make amends by taking part in some community activities in the area, such as helping at coaching clinics.

Pressed further by reporters here, Williams said: “I just have to focus on this tournament. But I think Mandela was a really amazing man. I felt really honoured to have a chance to meet him, get  to know him a little bit, and get to know his story a little better.”

 

PA

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
i100

Other places that have held independence referendums
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
news

Arts and Entertainment
Blossoming love: Colin Firth as Stanley and Emma Stone as Sophie, in 'Magic in the Moonlight'
film

Actors star in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur
film

It scooped up an unprecedented 11 Academy Awards when it was first remade in 1959

News
news

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

Arts and Entertainment
Maxine Peake plays Hamlet at Manchester's Royal Exchange
theatreReview: Maxine Peake brings emotional ferocity to Shakespeare's starring part
Travel
travel

...and the perfect time to visit them

Sport
Jonas Gutierrez (r) competes with Yaya Toure (l)
football

Newcastle winger reveals he has testicular cancer - and is losing his trademark long hair as a result

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week