Williams and older sister Venus have never returned to the tournament in the California desert after being jeered by spectators in a controversial final in 2001 but Serena had hinted at last month's Australian Open she might lift the boycott.
Serena had been listed among the entries for this year's edition but on Friday said in a statement: "After careful consideration, I will not return to the Indian Wells BNP Paribas Open this year.
"I send my best wishes to everyone involved with the tournament."
Tournament director Steve Simon said: "We wish her the very best of luck in the year ahead and hope that she will decide to play here next year."
Williams, who suffered a shock fourth round loss to Ana Ivanovic at the Australian Open, had raised the possibility of lifting her boycott of Indian Wells after being inspired by a movie about Nelson Mandela.
"It actually crossed my mind a couple days ago, or after I saw the movie," the 32-year-old American told reporters at Melbourne Park. "I thought about it (playing in Indian Wells)... Right now I don't know.
"I just have to focus on this tournament. But I think Mandela was a really amazing man. I felt really honored to have a chance to meet him, get to know him a little bit, and get to know his story a little better."


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