Serena William has accepted a wild card into the BNP Paribas Open after a 13-year hiatus from the tennis tournament. Her return was announced Wednesday by BNP Paribas Open and Indian Wells Tennis Garden Chief Executive Officer Raymond Moore.
Watch the video below as Serena explains her return to BNP Paribas Open in 2015
Williams, a two-time Champion at the BNP Paribas Open (1999, 2001), has captured 19 Grand Slam singles titles in her career, including the 2015 Australian Open.
“We are thrilled that Serena Williams, one of the greatest women players in the history of the game, is returning to play in the BNP Paribas Open,” said Moore. “We know our fans will welcome her for the magnificent champion that she is, and we really look forward to watching her compete again at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.”
In addition, Williams announced she is offering fans an opportunity to be her guest at the BNP Paribas Open. Fans who donate $10 or more to Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), an organization that provides legal representation to individuals who have been denied fair and just treatment in the legal system, will be entered in a drawing to win a trip to Indian Wells and sit courtside during her first match, have the opportunity to return one of her serves during a practice session, and take home one of her racquets, according to a BNP release. More details/entry info
Williams wrote a first-person column on time.com Wednesday explaining why she decided to return to the tournament after 13 years.
“I play for the love of the game. And it is with that love in mind, and a new understanding of the true meaning of forgiveness, that I will proudly return to Indian Wells in 2015,” she wrote.
After winning the tournament in 2001, Serena vowed never to return to play there because of the harsh treatment she received from fans.
The boycott came after the crowd’s hostile response to Venus Williams, who showed up to watch the final between her sister and Kim Clijsters, after pulling out of her scheduled semifinal against Serena Williams just two days earlier, according to Sports Illustrated.
In Serena’s column she writes, “The false allegations that our matches were fixed hurt, cut and ripped into us deeply,” Serena Williams wrote on Time.com. “The undercurrent of racism was painful, confusing and unfair. In a game I loved with all my heart, at one of my most cherished tournaments, I suddenly felt unwelcome, alone and afraid.”
She went on to write, “This haunted me for a long time. It haunted Venus and our family as well. But most of all, it angered and saddened my father. He dedicated his whole life to prepping us for this incredible journey, and there he had to sit and watch his daughter being taunted, sparking cold memories of his experiences growing up in the South,” she wrote.
According to ESPN, 33-year-old Serena, who won the Australian Open last week — her 19th Grand Slam title — writes that she believes the fans at Indian Wells understand her better now than they did in 2001.
Williams was on the entrants list for the BNP Paribas Open in 2014, but decided once again to not play.
The largest ATP World Tour and WTA combined two-week event in the world takes place March 9-22 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.