LOS ANGELES • Venus Williams will end her 15-year boycott of tennis' BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells next week, following in the footsteps of sister Serena who returned to the event last year.
The 35-year-old former world No. 1 has not played in the prestigious Californian event since 2001, when she and Serena were booed by sections of the crowd.
Her father, Richard Williams, has long alleged the family was subjected to repeated racial slurs after Venus withdrew from a semi-final against Serena due to a knee injury.
Explaining her decision to return to the tournament in a commentary on The Players' Tribune website, Williams said the criticism directed at her family had left a lasting mark on her.
"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," Venus wrote.
"I remember the accusations towards 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.
"There are certain things where, if you go through them at a certain age, you simply don't forget them."
Venus said she had been prompted to return after seeing the warm reception her sister received last year - when Serena was given a 57-second standing ovation before her opening match on Stadium Court.
"It was in that moment, seeing Serena welcomed with open arms, that I fully and truly realised what being the big sister means," she wrote. "It means that, for all of the things I did first, and all of the times when I paved the way for Serena, the thing I can be most proud of is this time. When Serena paved the way for me."