Williams' sister was murdered by a street gang.
In September 2003, Yetunde Prince, Serena and Venus Williams' half-sister, was sitting in an SUV with her boyfriend, Rolland Wormley, outside of a house in Compton. The couple was just chatting with each other when two members of the Southside Compton Crips opened fired on the SUV, believing that the vehicle was affiliated with a rival gang. Price's boyfriend sped off, only realizing that she was hit a short time later. Wormley immediately took her to the hospital where the 31-year-old lost her life.
In a six-part series from The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Serena Williams sits down with 12-year-old youth activist Naomi Walder for DiversiTea. Walder interviewed Williams to get her thoughts on female empowerment and how gun violence has played a role in the tennis champ's life.
“I was affected personally by gun violence, my sister, unfortunately, passed from that,” Williams said. "People are talking about it now because it’s happening more widespread, but it’s been affecting our community for years...I think we need to get comfortable with having uncomfortable conversations. Situations are never really gonna get better if you always avoid it, you have to take it head on.”
Williams has previously spoken openly about the tragedy surrounding her sister's violent murder. "It was a real dark period in my life," she said. "I went through depression. 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." Robert Edward Maxfield, a 25-year-old gang member, was later sentenced to 15 years in prison with the possibility of parole. A second defendant accused of firing a handgun during the attack, but because he didn't cause the fatal wound, the charges against him were dismissed.