The prestigious, ever-growing, we-try-harder tennis tournament at Indian Wells will, once again, have new offerings when it opens main draw play in the Southern California desert Wednesday.
The BNP Paribas Open will hand out $10,762,466 in prize money, $5,381,233 to both the men's and women's draw, with $900,000 going to each champion.
It has also expanded seating by 3,625 on the grounds, making a daily sellout now 45,110. Attendance at this event, which has become sort of a symbolic fifth major in tennis, now annually reaches levels approaching those events that drive the bus in the sport — the Australian, French and U.S. Opens and
BNP Paribas attendance was 431,527 last year, and has made a steady increase over the years. Attendance in 2010, before the addition of 8,000-seat Stadium 2 court, was 339,657.
Larger video screens have been added to the main stadium and shade awnings to restaurant and bar areas around Stadium 2. There will even be a new app that will deliver live streaming from several practice courts.
But all those new things pale in comparison to the return of
Her absence has been well documented. In 2001, her sister, Venus, defaulted from their semifinal match just prior to its start. When Serena took the court to play the final against
A week later, her father, Richard Williams, told a USA Today reporter that the booing was racially motivated. Others have speculated that it was motivated by the anger of fans who had tickets for the Venus-Serena semifinal.
Serena Williams, who won her 19th major title at this year's
Other top-seeded women players are No. 2
The men's top-seeded player is Novak Djokovic, fresh off his fifth Australian Open title, which gives him eight majors. In that Aussie final, Djokovic beat
Missing in the women's draw will be Petra Kvitova, two-time Wimbledon champion, who has withdrawn, citing exhaustion. Top men's players
The women's main draw begins Wednesday, the men's Thursday.