Serena Williams received some disturbing news about 10 minutes before her opening-round match of the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose last month.
The 23-time Grand Slam champion learned via Instagram that Robert E. Maxfield, the man who was convicted of fatally shooting her sister Yetunde Price, was out on parole three years short of serving his full 15-year sentence.
Williams then went out and lost her most lopsided match ever, 6-1, 6-0 to Johanna Konta of Great Britain.
“I couldn’t shake it out of my mind,” Williams told Time magazine in an interview that was published Thursday. “It was hard because all I think about is her kids and what they meant to me. And how much I love them.”
Price, the elder half sister of Serena and Venus Williams, was shot to death in 2003 at age 31. She was a registered nurse, co-owner of a beauty shop and the mother of three children, who were 11, 9 and 5 at the time. Maxfield, a reputed Southside Crips gang member, pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter in 2006.
“No matter what, my sister is not coming back for good behavior,” Williams told Time. “It’s unfair that she’ll never have an opportunity to hug me.”
Earlier this week, Williams lost to Petra Kvitova 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 in the second round of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, just her fifth tournament since returning to competition after the September birth of her daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. Last month, Williams advanced to the Wimbledon finals before losing to Angelique Kerber 6-3, 6-3.
Williams told Time she thinks she will one day be able to forgive Maxfield.