My Desert.com got it twisted as most of the media in the US does when reporting on Venus and Serena. They posted a story insinuating that Venus had decided to play the Indian Wells tournament. As James Brown sang – “Please, Please, Please!” Deciding to shop for tennis apparel while staying at the spa, she made a visit to the Palm Valley Country Club located five miles from the site of the tournament. Since 2011, the Williams sisters have boycotted this event, even though it’s a mandatory tournament on the tour and despite knowing the WTA will impose fines for their decision. Unaware of disgusting 2001 Indian Wells final or care for a refresher of that infamous event – read on!
REMEMBER THE WILLIAMS FAMILY ALAMO that TOOK PLACE AT INDIAN WELL IN 2001
A decade ago, Venus and Serena Williams were playing in the tournament now known as the BNP Paribas Open played each year in Indian Wells.
Ten years ago the two sisters were supposed to meet in a (much hyped) semifinal match to be televised on ESPN in 2001. Venus pulled out of the match with a knee injury and made the appropriate calls to officials according to rules in effect. Yet two hours before the match was scheduled, the officials knew Venus could not go on but waited until the stadium was full to make the announcement.
Venus’ withdrawal gave Serena a walkover into the final to be played against Kim Clijsters. Now all this occurred at a time when the media and opposing players were unfairly making claims that Richard Williams, their father predetermined which sister would win whenever they played each other. I say this unsubstantiated claim was simply a reaction to the fact that Venus and Serena were ruling the championships year after year!
At the finals, Venus and Richard were treated more than rudely – the predominately white crowd loudly booed when they entered and the angry, volatile taunts continued while they sat in the stands; as was Serena treated to the same throughout the match.
Serena writes boldly and truthfully about that day in her book.
Serena had this to say, “It wasn’t coming from just (booing) one section. It was like the whole crowd got together and decided to boo all at once. The ugliness was just raining down on me, hard. I didn’t know what to do.”
“I looked up and all I could see was a sea of rich people. Mostly older, mostly white-standing and booing lustily, like some kind of genteel lynch mob. I heard the N-word a couple times…”
Amazingly able to keep her composure, Serena beat Kim Clijsters to win the tournament.
Even as Serena held the championship trophy aloft, the crowd continued booing and voicing other disrespectable words toward the entire Williams family. That crowds behavior the media reports to this day as ‘rowdy’ but I call it what it was and is – straight out ‘racist’ behavior.
To show the deplorable way the Indian Wells officials handled this situation I offer the Sony Erickson Tournament incident. One year when some idiot yelled a racist slur at Serena. He was pointed out by some fans sitting nearby and promptly removed.
No such action Indian Wells. To this very day absolutely no explanation or apologies by officials for what Serena, Venus and their family were forced to endure that day in Indian Wells!
SERENA IS COMFORTED BY HER FAMILY AFTER WINNING 2001 INDIAN WELLS FINAL
A week later in a USA Today story, Richard Williams spoke about the racial slurs directed toward him and the family during the match. The media continues to report it as ‘claims.’
“It’s the worst act of prejudice I’ve seen since they killed
Martin Luther King,” Williams said.
He said that as he and Venus were walking to their seats
for the final, about a dozen fans used the racial slur and one spoke of skinning him alive.
“The white people at Indian Wells, what they’ve been wanting to say all along to us finally came out: ‘Nigger, stay away from here, we don’t want you here.”
Not surprising, the tournament officials still remain silent on the treatment the Williams family received. At the same time, how the hell can they remain silent when ESPN, which was televising the match, reported and the cameras cleared showed that security was placed by Venus and her father seated in the stands.
Rightfully so in my opinion, the family has boycotted the tournament and have never returned. The 2001 Indian Wells incident remains a sad reminder of the divided world we live in even today!
Thank God for making the Williams family a close, faith-based family; enabling Serena and Venus to put this horrendous memory out of their minds and go on to continue playing the game they love. And winning Grand Slam championships!
As for you Serena and Venus continue maintaining your dignity because as this Blog site is titled…
Williams Sisters Rock