Serena happy with Venus return at Indian Wells

Serena Williams hopes her sister Venus receives a warm welcome Friday when she tries to bury the hatchet with Indian Wells fans by ending her 15-year boycott of the WTA Tour event.

Friday March 11 2016

Serena Williams fields questions from the media during the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 10, 2016 in Indian Wells, California. PHOTO | MATTHEW STOCKMAN |

Serena Williams fields questions from the media during the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 10, 2016 in Indian Wells, California. PHOTO | MATTHEW STOCKMAN |  AFP

By AFP
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INDIAN WELLS

Serena Williams hopes her sister Venus receives a warm welcome Friday when she tries to bury the hatchet with Indian Wells fans by ending her 15-year boycott of the WTA Tour event.

"We had that one memory and we both want to get rid of that," world number one Serena on Thursday.

In 2001, spectators at Indian Wells booed Serena during the final and jeered her sister and father Richard Williams when the pair arrived to watch the match. Richard Williams alleges that racist comments were directed at them.

Serena, who ended her boycott last year, cheered the return of her older sister as the Compton, California natives could face each other in the quarter-finals.

Serena and Venus both play on Friday with Venus Williams making her return during the day session, while Serena will headline the evening session.

Venus is a former world No. 1 and the first African-American to become the top-ranked women's player in the world.

"I am really excited to be here and I am excited for her to have the same experience I had last year," Serena said Thursday.

"This is where everything started for us. Early in our careers we both played qualifying here back in 1997 or 1998.

"Last year it wasn't time for her. She was dealing with a lot physically with her illnesses. She wanted to try to make an effort to see what it was like."

Serena was greeted by a standing ovation when she returned last year to stadium court last year but was forced to withdraw from her semi with a knee injury, 14 years after Venus withdrew at the same stage.

"It feels like more of a normal tournament than last year. So we are making strides," Serena said.

The top ranked player in the world and the clear favourite here, Serena has a chance to become the first three-time winner in women's singles at Indian Wells.

Williams hasn't played a competitive match since her Australian Open final defeat to Angelique Kerber but is determined to add to her 21 Grand Slam titles this season.

"I definitely expect to win the Slams," she said. "There are hundreds of players who haven't won two in a row or three in a row.

"It is just me and another player out there who is expected to win every single match, every single tournament, and every single Grand Slam."