Serena Williams says she had to let go of the past before she could allow herself to end her 14-year boycott of the WTA Indian Wells tournament this week.
"Before, I wasn`t at a point where I was ready to come back to Indian Wells," Williams said on Thursday at the Tennis Garden stadium.
"I didn`t think I would come back. I thought I had finished my career in terms of being at this tournament."
The top seed said she is trying to forget the events of 2001, when she was booed during the final by tennis fans who accused her and her sister Venus of rigging matches.
"The whole point of me coming back is not to focus on what happened," Serena said. "I let that go.
"The decision was self made, an internal decision. I just felt it was the right thing to come back and do the best I can."
The reigning Australian Open champion is one of 32 seeded players who received a first-round bye at the joint ATP Masters and WTA tournament in the California desert. She will play her first match Friday night.
Serena is competing for the first time since her self-imposed exile began after winning the 2001 final over Kim Clijsters. She also claimed the Indian Wells title in 1999.
The 2001 controversy began when Serena`s sister Venus pulled out of their highly anticipated semi-final at the last minute, complaining of a sore knee.
Because most of the fans had already taken their seats, many reacted in anger, booing the announcement, and then Serena was booed during the final against Clijsters. Venus, who attended the match with her father Richard, was also jeered by the crowd.
Even the peers of the Williams` sisters had their suspicions. Upon learning that Serena and Venus would square off in the semis, Elena Dementieva said at the time it would be Richard who would determine the winner of the match.