*Under new 2009 Women's Tennis Association [WTA] rules announced Wednesday, both Venus Williams and her sister Serena face suspension for continuing to boycott the Indian Wells tournament, where they were booed in 2001.
Their boycott stems from a 2001 semi-final match at the tournament when the sisters were scheduled to play each other for the chance to face Belgian Kim Clijsters in the final. Venus pulled out with a knee injury five minutes before the match, causing many to question her motives for the exit. Serena was booed in the final, which she won 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.
"I don't play that tournament," Serena told reporters at the U.S. Open Wednesday following her victory over Venus in a quarterfinal match. "I guess there are a lot of tournaments you have to play next year or you get suspended."
Venus said of their Indian Wells sidestep: "The WTA is a good place. All of us live in a free country. We're able to make a choice whether we want to play or not. Players don't like suspensions. It's tough for the top players. It's a lot of give and not necessarily a ton coming back. If it's best for the sport I guess we all have to contribute."
The sisters told WTA chief executive Larry Scott that they'll continue to skip the event despite the suspensions. The boycott will cost them bonus money and precious ranking points starting next year as long as they remain in the world top 10.
Their refusal to appear would also lead to their suspension in 2010 for two premier events on the calendar following Indian Wells. That would drop them from Miami and Madrid events in 2010.
Meanwhile, Serena survived a pair of tie-breakers Wednesday night to defeat Venus 7-6 (8/6), 7-6 (9/7) and advance to tonight's semi-final match against Russian Dinara Safina, who defeated Flavia Pennetta 6-2, 6-3 in the other quarter final on Wednesday.
"It felt like the final of U.S. Open. I can't believe I won. Wow," Serena said of her battle with Venus. "It was difficult because she is such a great player."