Tennis Identity

“Why I’m going back to Indian Wells” by Venus Williams

Serena has been back but Venus has not, yet. March 2016 is V’s planned return to the desert tournament that wounded her psyche so badly 15 years ago in 2001. The Player’s Tribune has just released the true Venus Williams story behind the star player’s return to Indian Wells this year, “Why I’m going back to Indian Wells.” It’s an excellent read.

A few excerpts:

“I remember my quarterfinal match, against Elena Dementieva, like it was yesterday: 6–0, 6–3, a really good win over a really good player. I remember the pain of my knee injury, and how badly I wanted to play in the semis against Serena — before finally accepting that I wouldn’t be able to. I remember the accusations toward me and my sister and our father. I remember the crowd’s reaction, as I walked to my seat, during Serena’s match in the final. And I remember how I couldn’t understand why thousands of people would be acting this way — to a 19-year-old and a 20-year-old, trying their best…

I remember the hurt I felt. I remember my confusion and disappointment and anger. I remember how the coverage of it at the time didn’t seem concerned with me and Serena, as people, at all — but rather only with the story itself. And with the version of the story that would get the most attention, regardless of the truth. I remember feeling that I had been wronged, and that I had done nothing wrong. I remember feeling that I had unfairly gotten the brunt of the blame for a bad situation.”

She also talks about her role as big sister to Serena:

“For me, being the big sister meant that, when I made my professional debut, I was the only player on tour who looked like me. I was the only player with my skin color, with my hair, with my background, with my style.

Being the big sister meant that, when I became world No. 1 in 2002, I wasn’t just world No. 1. I was also the first black American woman to reach No. 1. And it meant that I had to carry with me the importance of what I had accomplished. And I was honored to do that.”

Being the big sister meant that, when my little sister made her professional debut, I became a lot of new things to her — her colleague, her competitor, her business partner, her doubles partner. But I was still, first and foremost, the one thing I had always been: her family. I was her protector — her first line of defense against outside forces. And I cherished that.”

Enjoy and welcome back V. You were missed.

Here’s what she will be wearing.

Sign up for our weekly email