INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - Serena Williams has announced that she will return to the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells this year, a tournament she won twice but hasn't played for 14 years - until now.
Williams made the announcement in an exclusive for TIME Magazine on Wednesday, discussing everything from her happy memories from the tournament, her devastating experiences there in 2001 and now, after 14 years, what brought her to the decision to make her long-awaited return there.
"It has been difficult for me to forget spending hours crying in the Indian Wells locker room after winning in 2001, driving back to Los Angeles feeling as if I had lost the biggest game ever - not a mere tennis game but a bigger fight for equality," Williams wrote in her exclusive piece for TIME.
And there's more. Williams is pairing up with the Equal Justice Initiative, or EJI, an organization that provides legal representation to individuals who have been denied fair and just treatment in the legal system. Fans who donate $10 or more to the cause will be entered in a draw and the winner will be her personal guest at the BNP Paribas Open - they will get flown out to Indian Wells, California, put up in a luxury hotel, get to return one of her serves and sit courtside for her first match, among other things.
Watch Williams herself talk about the competition in the below video and then click here to enter.
"This is fantastic news for fans and I congratulate Serena on her decision to play the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells again," Stacey Allaster, the Chairman & CEO of the WTA, said of Wednesday's announcement. "She is coming back with a great approach by connecting with fans in support of an incredible cause, the Equal Justice Initiative, to positively impact the lives of others. Serena has been missed at the tournament and I know she will be warmly received by the fans at Indian Wells."
Indian Wells was one of Williams' biggest conquering grounds early on in her career. She won the title in her main draw debut there as a 17-year-old in 1999 (including beating Steffi Graf in a riveting final), reached the quarterfinals again the next year (falling to an on-song Mary Pierce) and then recaptured the Premier Mandatory-level title in 2001 (rallying from a set down to beat Kim Clijsters in the final).