Serena's U-turn on Indian Wells praised by peers

Wed Mar 11, 2015 7:41pm EDT
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

INDIAN WELLS, California (Reuters) - Serena Williams' decision to end a 14-year boycott of the BNP Paribas Open has been warmly welcomed by her peers with good friend and rival Caroline Wozniacki saying it was "great for tennis".

Williams had skipped the showpiece event at the desert resort of Indian Wells after winning her second title there in 2001, beating Kim Clijsters in a final marred by the racist abuse of some fans who booed and heckled the American and her family.

The crowd reaction was in apparent response to her sister Venus having withdrawn from their semi-final that year just minutes before the match, citing injury.

"It's great for tennis, it's great for her," Danish world number five Wozniacki told reporters at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on Wednesday. "It's great for a tournament like this to have the best player in the world playing.

"It's a big step for her and I'm sure she is going to handle it great. I am happy to see her back here."

Eighth-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, who struggled with a knee injury as she was crushed 6-2 6-1 by Italy's Flavia Pennetta in last year's BNP Paribas final, agreed.

"It was her decision to come back and we are all happy about that," said Radwanska. "It's always another challenge for us playing her.

"There are so many other top players but of course when she is in the draw it's going to be even more tough."   Continued...

Serena Williams of the U.S. returns a shot to Maria Irigoyen of Argentina during their Fed Cup World Group II first round tennis match in Buenos Aires February 7, 2015. REUTERS/Enrique Marcarian