Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and many more of tennis' biggest names are entered to play in this year's BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, it was announced today.
Nadal and Williams are the top-ranked players.
Williams hasn't played in the tournament since 2001, when she, her sister Venus and her father Richard were jeered by spectators during the final. The sisters would have played each other in the semifinals, but Venus bowed out at the last minute because of an injury. Richard Williams said he heard racial taunts from spectators, according to news reports.
"While it is too soon to know whether she will play or not, we are pleased to see Serena's name on the entry list. Based on her comments at the Australian Open, we know playing in the tournament is something she is thinking about," tournament director Steve Simon said. Williams said she considered returning to the tournament after being inspired by "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom," a recent film about late South African president and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela, according to published reports.
Other players in the tournament include No. 2-ranked Novak Djokovic, defending Wimbledon champion Andy Murray, two-time Grand Slam and BNP Paribas champion Lleyton Hewitt, the No. 2-ranked woman Victoria Azarenka and top 10- ranked players Jelena Jankovic and Caroline Wozniacki.
The tournament is March 3-16 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden and is considered the world's largest combined event for the Association of Tennis Professionals and Women's Tennis Association. Three hundred players will compete for more than $10 million in prize money, according to organizers.
The complex's new second stadium and expansion will be unveiled March 1 for the McEnroe Challenge for Charity. Grand Slam champions John McEnroe, Jim Courier, Peter Fleming and Rick Leach will face off in singles and doubles matches, with all prize money donated to the local charity the player or team represents. Admission is free.
The Tennis Garden's expansion includes a new 8,000-seat stadium, box office and entrance on Washington Street, a 19,000-square-foot shaded area, four new practice courts and parking for up to 2,000 cars. The stadium's concourse level will have three restaurants -- Nobu, Chop House and Piero's Pizza Vino.
For more information and tickets, go to www.bnpparibasopen.com. --City News Service