Williams Sisters MIA again at Indian Wells
With Indian Wells underway this week, the ongoing Williams sister boycott is again a topic of conversation, especially as the WTA’s new roadmap contains penalties, including possible suspension, for missing its mandatory events. It’s not likely Venus and Serena will be suspended, as I wrote in USA Today, but neither is it likely the sisters will do much to promote the tournament itself. I asked WTA spokesman Andrew Walker if he expected this to be an annual ritual with the Williamses now that they have to perform some form of in-market activities (toothless though they may be). He answered: "That's a question you'd have to ask Venus and Serena."
Meantime, Joel Drucker has an excellent story today on ESPN.com detailing the events and comments following the 2001 Indian Wells incident. It shows how muddled the situation really was. It also suggests, to me at least, that the charges of racism emerged from Richard Williams, not the sisters, whose post-incident comments were weak and vague, at best. I should point out that Richard’s comments in USA Today cited by Drucker were written not by me but by my predecessor.
Some tennis fans may have seen a story this week in Sports Business Journal discussing a $3 million rebate the ATP Tour is giving back to tournaments as “financial relief” for difficult economic times. The money is coming back from tournament assessments, reports Daniel Kaplan. It’s worth noting, however, that the reason the ATP is offering “rebates” is because it has failed to line up a tour-wide sponsor to replace Mercedes-Benz – money that went directly into tournaments’ pockets. If the tour lands a new global sponsor, those tournaments that took the rebate money will not get the new sponsor dollars.
Finally, in another sign of the times, the formerly esteemed publication Tennis Week that was acquired by IMG in 2006 announced it will cease publication after 35 years of publication. It will continue online at tennisweek.com.