Serena and Venus Williams

Anyone with a little sister knows that sometimes the wisdom she imparts can resonate with you so deeply.

It has something to do with seeing this younger person whom you've always led turn around and do the leading and the guiding. That's what happened to Venus Williams and her baby sister, Serena.

In a letter posted on the Players' Tribune, Venus spoke about her and Serena's racist experience at the Indian Wells tennis tournament back in 2001. They were booed relentlessly and vowed never to return. Venus described how the experience scarred her.

"I remember the hurt I felt. I remember my confusion and disappointment and anger. I remember how the coverage of it at the time didn't seem concerned with me and Serena, as people, at all‚ÄĒbut rather only with the story itself," she explained. "And with the version of the story that would get the most attention, regardless of the truth. I remember feeling that I had been wronged, and that I had done nothing wrong. I remember feeling that I had unfairly gotten the brunt of the blame for a bad situation.

"And I remember leaving Indian Wells in 2001 feeling like I wasn't welcome there," she continued. "Not feeling welcome somewhere is a hard memory to let go of‚ÄĒat any age. At 20? It's almost impossible. And so that's what I did. I held onto it."


She and Serena kept their promise not to return for 14 years, and then Serena returned in 2015. That taught Venus something about perseverance and forgiveness.

"[S]eeing Serena welcomed with open arms last year at Indian Wells, that I think I fully and truly realized what being the big sister means," Venus said. "It means that, for all of the things I did first, and all of the times when I paved the way for Serena, the thing I can be most proud of is this time. When Serena paved the way for me."

Venus will play at Indian Wells in April. Nice.

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Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele is a staff writer at The Root and the founder and executive producer of Lectures to Beats, a Web series that features video interviews with scarily insightful people. Follow Lectures to Beats on Facebook and Twitter.

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