Serena mulls lifting Indian Wells boycott

MELBOURNE - Women’s world number one Serena Williams has held out the possibility of lifting her 13-year boycott of the Indian Wells tournament after being inspired by a movie about Nelson Mandela, the American said at the Australian Open on Friday.
Serena Williams of the U.S. celebrates defeating Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia during their women’s singles match.  Net photo
Serena Williams of the U.S. celebrates defeating Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia during their women’s singles match. Net photo

Women’s Singles: 3rd round results
Dellacqua     bt     Zheng        6-2, 6-4
Kerber     bt    Riske        6-3, 6-4
Makarova     bt     Niculescu    6-4, 6-4
Bouchard     bt    Davis        6-2, 6-2
Pennetta     bt     Barthel        6-1, 7-5
Azarenka     bt Záhlavová Strýcová 6-1, 6-4

MELBOURNE - Women’s world number one Serena Williams has held out the possibility of lifting her 13-year boycott of the Indian Wells tournament after being inspired by a movie about Nelson Mandela, the American said at the Australian Open on Friday.

Fourth seed Li Na saved a match point before rallying past a combative Lucie Safarova to record a 1-6 7-6 6-3 third round victory and avoid becoming the highest-ranked casualty in the first week.

Williams, who eased into the fourth round with a victory over Daniela Hantuchova, and older sister Venus have never returned to the tournament in the California desert after being jeered by spectators in a controversial final in 2001.

Spectators vented their displeasure with the late withdrawal during the final, booing 19-year-old Serena in her match against Belgian Kim Clijsters and also jeering her sister and father Richard Williams when the pair arrived to watch the match.

Richard Williams alleged he had heard racist taunts from the crowd and the family have not returned since. Serena was asked if Mandela’s message of reconciliation might have led her to re-consider her boycott.

“It actually crossed my mind a couple days ago, or after I saw the movie,” the 32-year-old told reporters at Melbourne Park.

“I thought about it... Right now I don’t know. I just have to focus on this tournament.  “But I think Mandela was a really amazing man. I felt really honoured to have a chance to meet him, get to know him a little bit, and get to know his story a little better.”

RECORD WIN

Williams reached the fourth round in Melbourne with a dominant 6-3 6-3 win over the 31st-seeded Slovak Hantuchova at Rod Laver Arena on Friday.

She next faces either Australia’s Sam Stosur or Serbian Ana Ivanovic, who play in the evening session. Agencies

The win was a record 61st for Williams at the Australian Open, putting the American past Australian Margaret Court’s 60.

Williams defeated Romania’s Irina Spirlea, a former top 10 player, in her Melbourne Park debut in 1998 before being beaten in the second round by Venus.

Williams has won five titles at Melbourne Park since her debut at the year’s first grand slam 16 years ago and is a hot favourite to win a sixth after a dominant season last year when she won the French and U.S. Opens.

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