Williams, who has not played at Indian Wells since 2001, had left her name on the preliminary entry list last month but withdrew Friday.
“After careful consideration, I will not return to the Indian Wells BNP Paribas Open this year," Williams said. "I send my best wishes to everyone involved in the tournament.”
Steve Simon, the tournament director, said, “We wish her the best of luck and hope she decides to play here next year.”
Williams, ranked No. 1 in the world but coming off a fourth-round loss at the Australian Open, was involved in a controversy during the 2001 final at Indian Wells, when fans booed her and her family members.
She had advanced when her sister, Venus, defaulted their scheduled semifinal. Later, their father, Richard, said he felt the booing was racially motivated. Neither Williams sister has played in the tournament since.