March 10, 2009

Williams Sisters continue Indian Wells boycott

Serena and Venus Williams have informed the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour they will comply with appearance and publicity requirements that will allow them to not play the premier-status Indian Wells tournament (March 11-22) without being suspended. A WTA source said the sisters will do "promotional activities in the tournament market," which extends from Indian Wells and Palm Springs, Calif., to Los Angeles.

The Williamses have refused to play Indian Wells since 2001, when they claim that they and their father, Richard Williams, were subjected to racial taunts and comments from a stadium court audience which turned angry when it was announced about five minutes before the semifinal that Venus was injured and would not be able to play her sister.

With the passage of the WTA's new Roadmap, which streamlines the schedule of tournaments, Indian Wells became one of four premier events that all top 10 players would be required to play. Initially, the tour announced that any top 10 player who declined to play a premier tournament without a legitimate medical excuse would be suspended for the next two premier events. That resulted in more acrimony as Richard Williams threatened to sue the WTA if his daughters were suspended from playing their home town premier event at Key Biscayne, Fl. -- the Sony Ericsson Open.

Tour CEO Larry Scott spent months trying to negotiate a compromise that would return the sisters to Indian Wells, but the Williamses would not relent. The WTA has since put into place stipulations that any player declining to play an event for personal reasons could avoid suspension by doing a series of personal appearances promoting the tournament they were avoiding. "The exact date for the performance of those activities, and the specific activities will be determined by the tour shortly," a WTA spokesman said.

-- Article courtesy of Bob Larson's Tennis News

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