Serena Williams sat down with 12-year-old Naomi Wadler for an interview about gun violence and opened up about how the Williams family has been affected by the issue in the past, citing the loss of her own half-sister.
Venus & Serena Williams’ Half Sister Yetunde Price
Serena opened up for the first time in a long time to Wadler about her half-sister Yetunde Price, who was the victim of a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles, California, in 2003.
Price, who was Serena and Venus’ older sister, was shot and killed by Robert Maxfield in Compton. At the time of the murder, police believed that Price’s boyfriend was the intended target of the shooting. Maxfield was sentenced to 15 years in prison, of which he served 12 and was released in 2018 due to good behavior.
According to ESPN, Williams was informed of Maxwell’s release just moments before taking the court at the 2018 Silicon Valley Classic.
Serena told People Magazine that she went to therapy and battled depression as a result of the loss of her sister.
“It was a real dark period in my life. I went through depression,” Serena said. “I never even talked about it to my mom. No one knew I was in therapy, but I was. I was so close to my sister.”
Yetunde Price was the daughter of Williams’ mother, Oracene Price, from a previous relationship with the girls’ former tennis coach, Yusef Rasheed. Price also had two more daughters — Isha and Lyndrea — who are also Serena and Venus’s half sisters.
Price and Williams share the same mother but have a different father, as Serena and her sister Venus are daughters to Richard Williams.
Richard and his superstar daughters are the subject of a new movie called “King Richard,” which hits theaters on November 19, 2021. Richard Williams is played by Will Smith.
Does Serena Forgive the Killer?
As mentioned above, Serena found out Maxfield was released early for good behavior before playing a match. She told TIME she couldn’t stop thinking about Price’s three kids, who were 11, 9 and 5 years old when she was killed.
“It was hard because all I think about is her kids,” she said. “and what they meant to me. And how much I love them.”
Serena was actually at Maxfield’s hearings in 2006 when he was sentenced. She told TIME in 2018 that she hadn’t forgiven her half sister’s killer, but that she will in time.
She takes a deep breath. “No matter what, my sister is not coming back for good behavior,” she says. “It’s unfair that she’ll never have an opportunity to hug me. But also?” she pauses, the thought hanging in the air. “The Bible talks about forgiveness.” Does she forgive the killer? “I’m not there yet,” she says. “I would like to practice what I preach, and teach Olympia that as well. I want to forgive. I have to get there. I’ll be there.” — TIME Magazine, 2018
Serena & Venus Started a Resource Center in Her Name
Tennis stars Venus and sister Serena, who combine for a remarkable 30 Grand Slam Singles Titles and eight Olympic gold medals, started the Yetunde Price Resource Center, which aims to “honor the life and legacy of its namesake by supporting individuals, families and children in Southern Los Angeles affected by trauma.”
The Williams sisters epitomize success as tennis superstars and have both spent time as the World No. 1 ranking on the WTA Tour.
Combined, the sisters boast 28 Grand Slam Tournament Doubles titles, including four wins at the Australian Open, two at the French Open, six at Wimbledon and two at the U.S. Open. The sisters have even faced off against one another, though fans will most likely remember when Venus Williams withdrew from their quarterfinals clash at the 2001 Indian Wells Masters tournament due to a knee injury. They also faced off in the second round of the 1998 Australian Open.
Even with all the success that star female athletes Serena and Venus Williams have experienced winning championships and tournaments in New York, Florida and across the globe, the tragic loss of their sister weighed heavily upon them.
This post was originally published on February 2, 2021.