Indian Wells absences to hit Williams pair hard

March 21st, 2009 - 3:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Indian Wells (California), March 21 (DPA) The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) will take a hard financial line with the Williams sisters, who have boycotted the Indian Wells Masters since a booing incident in 2001.
Tour boss Larry Scott says that Venus and Serena will pay the price for their continual absences from the required event.

“There will be sanctions despite the personal issues of the Williams sisters,” said Scott. “They will pay significant consequences.”

World No. 1 Serena faces a loss of $300,000 from the $1.9 million year-end bonus pool while Venus will forfeit 150,000 dollars.

That’s in addition to potential prize money at the rich $4.5 million tournament and a costly zero ranking points for the 12-day event.

The stubborn sisters, who claim that racism was responsible for the crowd jeers near the turn of the century, will each have to make promotional appearances for the WTA — Venus in July in conjunction with the ESPY sports awards in Los Angeles and Serena in the autumn to promote the year-end championships in Doha.

While Indian Wells may have missed the sibling act, there will be no begging to get them to return.

“Venus and Serena know they are welcome here and the fans would love to see them,” said tournament director Steve Simon.

“We would be delighted if they decide to play in future years - if not, then they will deal with the repercussions.”

But for other players, having the powerhouse pair out of the frame is just fine. “It does create opportunities, them not being here,” said No. 11 Victoria Azarenka, already the winner of two titles in 2009.

“You have to feel confident against every opponent but it does make the draw a little more open and there are some more chances for players to make a run.”

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