Serena Williams dejected

Serena Williams still remembers “traumatising” Masters event from 20 years ago

Serena Williams has revealed that she still carries the “post-traumatic stress and anxiety” of the jeers and boos she faced at the 2001 Indian Wells Masters.

Serena was booed in the 2001 Indian Wells final after accusations arose that she only reached the final after her father, Richard Williams, withdrew her sister Venus from their semi-final encounter.

Venus pulled out with tendonitis prior to the sisters’ match-up which allowed Serena to advance to the final and play Kim Clijsters. Although, Russian Elena Dementieva claimed a day before the withdrawal that Richard Williams would “decide who’s going to win.”

Nearly 16,000 spectators booed Serena, who was just 19-years-old at the time, as well as father Richard and sister Venus as they took their seats in the stands.

Serena went on to beat Clijsters after coming from a set behind but did not return the following year to defend her title. Serena also decided to boycott the event up until 2015.

Ahead of the new film ‘King Richard’, a biopic of Richard Williams and his plan to write Serena and Venus into the history books, Serena told Will Smith in a Red Table Talk interview “I remember I was playing this infamous match at Indian Wells … That was a rough one for me.”

“It was so hard. I’ll never forget driving back … I remember just getting in the car and I was just bawling. I was at the gas station, there was no celebration and I was just crying and crying and crying.

“Even when I went back 14 years later, it was very traumatizing.

“Talk about post-traumatic stress and mental anxiety. I remember sitting in the bathroom thinking, ‘Wait, I’m not going to go back. I just don’t think I should do this. What if they start booing again?’ It was really hard for me,” Serena explained.

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Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.