Tennis News from Indian Wells
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INDIAN WELLS, Calif. - Serena Williams withdrew before her semifinal at the BNP Paribas Open on Friday night with a right knee injury, 14 years after her sister Venus did the same thing and triggered an angry reaction from fans that had driven Serena to boycott the tournament.
The world's top-ranked player was to play third-seeded Simona Halep in the second semifinal. Williams addressed the crowd on court after Jelena Jankovic defeated Sabine Lisicki 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 to reach the final.
"A couple days ago at practice, I really injured my knee, " Williams told fans. "Today I was struggling just to even walk."
- A knee injury kept Serena Williams from the storybook ending she desired in her return to Indian Wells.
At first, neither the announcer nor Williams informed the crowd that she had withdrawn from the tournament. He asked the crowd for a round of applause "for this young lady we love very much" when she came out.
After Williams' brief comments in which she didn't clarify she had withdrawn, fans applauded with only a few boos. As she walked off, the announcer told the fans that she wouldn't be playing and he apologized. Williams stopped to sign some autographs on her way off court.
She had played four matches since being warmly welcomed back a week ago Friday, winning three in straight sets. Williams told reporters that she first noticed the injury when she was serving on the practice court and felt a "super sharp" pain in her knee. She said she got an injection for the first time in her career, but it didn't help.
"I have a tremendous amount of inflammation in my knee, and it's going to go away. Unfortunately I just need a couple of days, " she said. "That's the most frustrating part."
Williams was back for the first time since 2001, ending her boycott that began after she won the title as a 19-year-old and was heavily booed. She was supposed to play Venus in the semis, and Venus withdrew 20 minutes before with a knee injury, angering the crowd.
Serena went on to beat Kim Clijsters in the final, but fans booed her throughout the match, and she vowed never to return to the desert. The sisters' father, Richard, later said he heard racial taunts, and there was speculation at the time that he decided in advance which sister would win their matches against each other.
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