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
Leah Devine is only the ninth female to have made the Young Magician of the Year final since the contest began more than 50 years
peopleMeet the 16-year-old who has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year
News
Jonathan Anderson was born in Northern Ireland but now based between London, where he presents a line named JW Anderson
peopleBritish designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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.

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing