After 14 long years, Serena Williams is finally coming back to Indian Wells. The World’s No. 1-ranked women’s tennis player has ended her boycott, and thanks in part to a fairly easy draw in the early rounds, Williams is expected to be the favorite when the tennis odds are released.
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Williams started her boycott in 2001, after she was harassed by the crowd during her finals victory over Kim Clijsters. No American woman has won the event since. The list of former champions reads like a Who’s Who of the sport: Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki have all won the unofficial “fifth major” on the tennis circuit, as has the defending champion, Flavia Pennetta.
While Sharapova and Azarenka are pointed toward a potential third-round matchup at Indian Wells, Williams appears to be in the clear until at least the fourth round, where she could face Lucie Safarova, the World’s No. 11 who beat Azarenka in last month’s Qatar Total Open final. Williams has played sparingly since taking down the 2015 Australian Open; her most recent match was over a month ago at the Fed Cup, where she beat Maria Irigoyen in straight sets.
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