Why did Willams Sisters Boycott Indian Wells Masters

If you are a tennis fan, you know these sisters who have earned a big name and respect in the game. Serena Williams and Venus Williams are the two diamonds of the tennis era who entertained tennis followers across the globe.

Serena Willams bagged 23 Grand Slam titles during her career, while Venus got them 7 seven times. Courts witnessed their epic rivalries when the tickets were sold out quickly and broadcasting rights bided for a handsome amount. Sarena is on top with career earnings of $94,518,971, while Venus’s is $42,280,540.

But with that mind-blowing career record, they have a controversy too. They did not participate in the Indian Wells Open from 2001 to 2014.

I decided to research that topic and discuss why they boycotted the Indian Wells Masters for 14 years.

Willams Sisters Controversy on Indian Wells Open | The Real Facts

So, let’s go through the timeline of events that enforce the Williams Sisters to leave the Indian Wells Masters in 2001.

  1. The semi-final was scheduled to play between the two sisters in 2001.
  2. Venus Williams withdrew just four minutes before the match, claiming an injury.
  3. Rumors were murmuring in California, and fans were calling it a match-fixing.
  4. Serena played Kim Clijsters in the finals the next day.
  5. Before the start of the finals, Venus and her father made an entry to the court. While they were taking to their seats, the crowd in the arena booed at them.

The match began, and despite enjoying the match, Serena was booed intermittently by the crowd.

  • This did not stop even during the post-match-winning interview of Serena Williams.
  • Richard accused the crowds at Indian Wells of overt racism, saying, “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'”.
  • No other reports of verbal racism were reported to tournament officials, although Venus has stated without elaboration, “I heard what he heard.” Oracene Price (mother and coach of Venus and Serena) accused the crowd of “taking off their hoods”.

After the controversy, the Williams sisters decided not to participate in the Indian Wells Masters tournament for 14 years. The tournament was made mandatory by WTA for all players. The only exceptions were given to the players who were engaged in WTA promotions. The sisters denied clearly promoting the event too.

They both had a big financial loss for not participating in the event, but they decided not too.


Serena discussed that event in her autobiography “In the Line” under the chapter “The Fiery Darts of Indian Wells”. She said that Venus told the four trainers that she was feeling a lot of pain in her knee in the morning of the Semi-Finals. But they kept elongating it and did not inform the authorities. She kept writing and said that the crowd booed a lot, and the sounds were coming out from all the sections of the painful arena.

My stand is very clear, and I am with the William Sisters. They have given us too much, and they got a transparent career record. There was not any event when their sincerity towards the game was challenged. So, yes, in this scenario, the authorities would have taken their guard up and must have convinced them to play the tournament with full protocols.

In 2014, the matter closed up with good news when Serena wrote in her column in Time magazine that she was willing to come back to Indian Wells Masters. She did and won her opening match.

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