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Venus Williams opens up about return to Indian Wells

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The Sports Xchange
Venus Williams. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Venus Williams. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Venus Williams will return to the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells next week for the first time in 15 years, and wrote about her decision in the Players Tribune.

Venus, sister Serena and father Richard Williams were heavily booed during the 2001 tournament, which Serena won in a final against Kim Clijsters. Serena cried in the lockerroom after the match and Richard Williams said that all three of the family members were the target of numerous racial slurs from the crowd after Venus withdrew before her scheduled semifinal match against Serena due to a knee injury.

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"I remember the pain of my knee injury, and how badly I wanted to play in the semis against Serena - before finally accepting that I wouldn't be able to," Venus wrote. "I remember the accusations toward me and my sister and our father. I remember the crowd's reaction, as I walked to my seat, during Serena's match in the final. And I remember how I couldn't understand why thousands of people would be acting this way - to a 19-year-old and a 20-year-old, trying their best.

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"There are certain things where, if you go through them at a certain age, you simply don't forget them."

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Both sisters boycotted the tournament until Serena returned last year, receiving a 57-second standing ovation before her opening match on Stadium Court.

"It was in that moment, seeing Serena welcomed with open arms last year at Indian Wells, that I think I fully and truly realized what being the big sister means," Venus wrote. "It means that, for all of the things I did first, and all of the times when I paved the way for Serena, the thing I can be most proud of is this time.

"When Serena paved the way for me."

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Now Venus is set to return with the tournament beginning March 7.

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