Tennis stars' sister gunned down in Los Angeles

Posted: Monday, September 15, 2003

COMPTON, Calif. An older sister of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams was shot to death Sunday following a dispute in suburban Los Angeles, authorities said.

Yetunde Price, 31, was with a man in a sport utility vehicle shortly after midnight and ''somehow they had become involved in a confrontation with the local residents,'' said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Richard Pena.

Sheriff's deputies searching for three people believed to be involved in the shooting surrounded a house in Compton at about 6 a.m., but it turned out to be empty. No arrests had been made.

Venus and Serena Williams both had been ranked No. 1 in the world and have won a total of 10 Grand Slam singles titles.

Members of the Williams family were en route to California. Serena has been in Toronto to film a guest role in a cable TV drama series, and Venus was flying from New York.

''This is sad and very tragic news,'' WTA Tour chief executive Larry Scott said in a statement. ''The thoughts and prayers of everyone at the WTA Tour are with the entire Williams family at this difficult time.''

Price was shot in the upper torso. Deputies on patrol heard the gunshots and found Price, who was later pronounced dead at a hospital. The man who had been with her in the SUV wasn't injured and was being interviewed by authorities, Pena said.

Neighbor Robert Miller, 49, said he heard about a dozen gunshots.

An assault rifle was found at the scene of the shooting, Pena said.

Price was one of five Williams sisters who spent their early years in Compton, a crime- and poverty-ridden community where gang fighting has claimed many lives.

Serena and Venus began playing tennis as young girls on the neighborhood courts in Compton, coached by their father, Richard.

The family later moved to Florida, and Venus and Serena have shared a house in Palm Beach Gardens. Serena also now owns a home in the Los Angeles area. Richard and their mother, Oracene, are divorced, and Price used her mother's maiden name.

Price lived in Corona and worked as a personal assistant to her famous sisters. She was divorced and had three children. She was a registered nurse who also owned a beauty salon.

Serena, 21, and Venus, 23, both missed the U.S. Open, which ended last weekend, because of injuries. Neither has said when they will play next, although the season-ending WTA Tour championships in Los Angeles in November is a possibility.

Serena, currently ranked No. 3 in the world, and Venus, who is No. 6, have combined to win nine of the past 14 Grand Slam titles. They met in the final at five of the last seven Slams, with Serena winning each time.

The other Williams sisters are Lyndrea, an actress and singer; and Isha, a lawyer and singer.

Venus and Serena occasionally are accompanied to tournaments by their sisters. At Wimbledon this summer, when Venus was injured during her semifinal and considered quitting, her mother and sisters encouraged her to play on.



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