ST. Petersburg, United States – World number one Serena Williams has withdrawn from next month's WTA tournament at Indian Wells, an event which she entered last month after boycotting it since 2001.
The move came only a few hours after the 17-time Grand Slam singles champion withdrew from next week's $2.4 million WTA event in Doha, Qatar, due to a back injury she suffered at the Australian Open.
Williams, however, did not cite her injury as a reason for deciding against playing at Indian Wells in March.
“After careful consideration, I will not return to the Indian Wells BNP Paribas Open this year,” Williams said. “I send my best wishes to everyone involved with the tournament.”
Those well wishes and her earlier decision to enter the event were a thaw in relations that became icy in 2001.
Williams and her older sister Venus have boycotted the California event since 2001, when Serena was fiercely booed as she played Kim Clijsters in the final.
Spectators were angry at the time after Venus had defaulted to Serena due to tendinitis just moments before they were scheduled to meet in the semi-finals, what some felt was less about an injury and more about a desire to improve the family's chances of taking the title.
Richard Williams was so upset with the reception that he called for security protection while sitting in the stands.
Williams entered the event last month after saying at the Australian Open that she was considering returning to Indian Wells after being inspired toward reconciliation after watching a movie about the late South African leader Nelson Mandela.
“We are disappointed that Serena has withdrawn from the 2014 BNP Paribas Open,” said tournament director Steve Simon. “We wish her the very best of luck in the year ahead and hope that she will decide to play here next year.”
Williams, who lost to Victoria Azarenka in last year's Qatar Open final, last played in the fourth round of the Australian Open, where she was upset by Serbian Ana Ivanovic.
Williams, who won her opening tournament of the year at Brisbane by beating Azarenka in the final, is the reigning US and French Open champion. – Sapa-AFP