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Justine Henin given Indian Wells tennis spot

February 3, 2010 |  4:56 pm

Justine Henin was given a wild card  into the main draw of the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament scheduled for March 8-21 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, tournament director Steve Simon announced Wednesday.

Fabforum Henin, who won the event in 2004, will join men's No. 1-ranked player Roger Federer, defending BNP men's champion Rafael Nadal, defending U.S. Open champion Kim Clijsters and Maria Sharapova in the tournament, which is the most well-attended outside of the four major tournaments.

Conspicuously missing are women's No. 1 player Serena Williams and her sister Venus. They have refused to play in the tournament since an incident in 2001 when they were subjected to what they considered racist comments from fans after Venus withdrew moments from a semifinal match against Clijsters, leaving a full stadium without much tennis to watch.

Serena played Clijsters in the finals the next day and was booed, along with her father, Richard Williams. Richard, Venus and Serena all said they heard racist comments during the booing and Serena and Venus have been consistent in refusing to enter the tournament since.

Henin was also a wild-card entrant at the Australian Open, where she lost in a three-set final to Serena Williams.

-- Diane Pucin

Photo: Justine Henin. Credit: Nicolas Luttiau, U.S. Presswire.