September 27, 2023

Open Court


BIG NEWS: Serena returns to Indian Wells

A year ago, Serena Williams’ name was on the entry list for Indian Wells, a tournament she vowed never to return to.

The reasons for skipping it were true, heartfelt and valid. It was her decision, and she stuck to it for 14 years.

Last year turned out to be a false alarm.

But this year, after a 14-year absence, she’s BACK.

Here’s what Williams said about it, a compelling read in Time.

Here’s some video of her confirming the news. It’s a bit awkward. But the essay is compelling.

“Thirteen years and a lifetime in tennis later, things feel different. A few months ago, when Russian official Shamil Tarpischev made racist and sexist remarks about Venus and me, the WTA and USTA immediately condemned him. It reminded me how far the sport has come, and how far I’ve come too.”

She’s twinning it with a fundraiser for the Equal justice Initiative, which helps “individuals who have been denied fair and just treatment in the legal system.” Donations can be made here; winner gets some personal time with Williams.

Kudos to the lady. What a grownup she is turning out to be.

This is what happened (in case you weren’t paying attention back then), when Serena played Kim Clijsters in the final.

Anyone over the years who criticized her “stubbornness” in staying away from the place – in her own country, no less, in the state in which she was born – clearly hasn’t walked a step in her shoes. I haven’t either, obviously. But I’ve always understood.

Coming back, and facing down those years of accumulated feelings about a traumatic event that happened, we should remember, when she was still just a kid, is an even more courageous act than staying away.

I always believed, especially in more recent years, as Serena V2.0 has evolved in so many ways on her personal journey, she she might indeed return before she was done.

“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 to write a different ­ending.”

And now, she is. And she’s making it matter. Racquet clap.

As for Venus, agent Carlos Fleming tells the New York Times that his client hasn’t told him she’ll be playing. You can interpret that any way you like.


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