There were screams, shouts, cheers, groans and words of encouragement. It was a far cry from 2001 when Serena Williams last played the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells.
On this night, there were shouts of “Come on Serena”, “move your feet” and many signs saying “Welcome back Serena” and “Straight Outta Compton”.
In the stands were Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle and owner of this tournament. John McEnroe a tennis legend in his own right. Bill Gates former CEO of Microsoft. Further up in the stands were Serena’s family. Her sister Iysha, brought to tears by this moment. Her mother Oracene, looking as always the diva in her dark glasses, hiding her emotions, Jill Smoller her longtime agent, and the man who has helped her on her way to securing legendary status, the Mastermind himself, Patrick Mouratogolu. There were rumours that Serena’s former hitting partner, Sascha Bajin was on the grounds watching her match. I would not be surprised if that were true.
The match will not go down as one of Serena’s best. There were errors aplenty, some of it caused by her opponent, but the majority from Serena’s racquet. The over 2 hour long match was filled with drama, exciting ralllies and introduced people to the wonders of the Nicolescu sliced forehand. An incredible shot that really needs its own social media page. After all Milos Raonic’s hair has its own twitter handle..
This night, this wondrous night belonged to Serena Williams.
I berate Tennis Channel all the time for the cluelessness that they exhibit when it comes to the members of the broadcast booth, but in this, in this retelling of the Serena Williamms return to Indian Wells they hit the ball out of the park. They were respectful and truthful. They dealt with the facts and they commended where they should.
Serena said that her aim was to create new memories. She also said that she did not need to win the touranent in order to feel as if she had won a victory (and everyone in the locker room breathed a sigh of relief), but for me this is when Serena will become even more dangerous. She has shaken the proverbial monkey off her back. The fear and the anxiety that she experenced after deciding to play in Indian Wells is gone. She has survived her worst nightmares.
Let the games begin.