Williams likely to boycott South Carolina tournament

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The father of reigning US Open tennis champion Serena Williams said on Friday he is almost certain his daughter will honor a boycott of South Carolina and skip the Family Circle Cup tournament on the state's Hilton Head Island in April.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has called for an economic boycott of the state as long as the Confederate flag, which it says is a symbol of slavery, flies over the Statehouse. Flag defenders say it represents Southern heritage.

"Serena and I have had a discussion, and I believe that Serena is contemplating 100 percent not playing in that tournament," Richard Williams said, adding that because she is 18 now, the ulent.

Richard Williams said his daughter, the first to commit to the $1 million tournament, will take no further action to honor the boycott, but he said he is thinking of participating in a 120-mile (193-kilometer) march from Charleston to Columbia that starts on Sunday.

The march is meant to draw attention to the flag issue and the state legislature's failure to establish a permanent state holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The Confederate flag was flown by Southern states during the US Civil War from 1861-65.

Serena Williams said at a tournament in Florida earlier this week that she did not know about the boycott but said "I'm not going to support anything that's putting down my race."

Richard Williams said he talked to his daughter about the issue this week.

"I just asked her to look at her history and the history of black people, and there were some things I thought she needed to go back and look at herself," he said.

The tournament, scheduled to start on April 17, had not heard from the Williams family on Friday, spokeswoman Robin Reynolds said.

The South Carolina NAACP also had not heard from the Williams family on Friday, but welcomed the news, President James Gallman said.

Gallman said the NAACP is trying to get in touch with golfer Tiger Woods to "explain the sanctions and ask for hisI Classic golf tournament on Hilton Head Island is scheduled to start on April 10. Woods has not yet committed to play in the tournament.

Sports are becoming increasingly caught up in South Carolina's Confederate flag controversy.

The New York Knicks, who have held a playoff training camp in Charleston every April since 1991, announced in February they would not return this year because of the flag controversy.

Some runners in February's US women's Olympic marathon trials in Columbia wore ribbons to protest the flag.