Serena Williams says she learned that her half-sister’s killer was going free just minutes before her match against Johanna Konta last month.
Williams’ elder half-sister Yetunde Price was shot dead in 2003, aged 31, in Compton, Los Angeles. Her children were 11, nine and five at the time.
And when Williams learned the killer had been released on parole, she suffered the heaviest defeat of her career – 6-1, 6-0 – against Konta in the first round of the Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose.
“I couldn’t shake it out of my mind,” said the 23-time Grand Slam champion.
Robert Maxfield was jailed for 15 years in April 2006 and Williams attended the sentencing at the time.
She told Time magazine: “No matter what, my sister is not coming back for good behaviour.
“It’s unfair that she’ll never have an opportunity to hug me.
“It was hard because all I think about is her kids – what they meant to me and how much I love them.
“I would like to practice what I preach, and teach [daughter] Olympia that as well. I want to forgive. I have to get there. I’ll be there.”
The US Open gets under way in less than two weeks, and while Williams will be vying for a seventh singles title at Flushing Meadows, she must also find a way to turn her recent fortunes, which includes semi-final defeats in 2015 and 2016 – around.
“I’m trying to get a new vibe there,” she said.
“But I’m not going in there thinking I’m going to lose. That’s not being Serena. That’s being someone else.”