Serena Williams Apologizes for Reported Comments on Steubenville Rape Case

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJune 19, 2013

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 08:  Serena Williams of United States of America celebrates a point in her Women's Singles Final match against Maria Sharapova of Russia  during day fourteen of French Open at Roland Garros on June 8, 2013 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

After making some controversial comments regarding the Steubenville rape case in a Rolling Stone article by Stephen Rodrick, women's tennis star Serena Williams has publicly apologized.

From her website:

What happened in Steubenville was a real shock for me. I was deeply saddened. For someone to be raped, and at only sixteen, is such a horrible tragedy! For both families involved—that of the rape victim and of the accused. I am currently reaching out to the girl’s family to let her know that I am deeply sorry for what was written in the Rolling Stone article. What was written—what I supposedly said—is insensitive and hurtful, and I by no means would say or insinuate that she was at all to blame.

I have fought all of my career for women’s equality, women’s equal rights, respect in their fields—anything I could do to support women I have done. My prayers and support always goes out to the rape victim. In this case, most especially, to an innocent sixteen year old child.

The comments in question came toward the end of the June 18 article: 

We watch the news for a while, and the infamous Steubenville rape case flashes on the TV—two high school football players raped a drunk 16-year-old, while other students watched and texted details of the crime. Serena just shakes her head.

"Do you think it was fair, what they got? They did something stupid, but I don't know. I'm not blaming the girl, but if you're a 16-year-old and you're drunk like that, your parents should teach you: Don't take drinks from other people. She's 16, why was she that drunk where she doesn't remember? It could have been much worse. She's lucky. Obviously, I don't know, maybe she wasn't a virgin, but she shouldn't have put herself in that position, unless they slipped her something, then that's different."

Williams caused an immediate stir because of what she was quoted as saying, and she is clearly trying to rectify the situation.

Serena likely had to know that anything she said was fair game to be printed unless specified otherwise. Nevertheless, she wanted to clarify her intentions, and it's evident from her apology that she did not mean for her initial comments to come off as they did. 

It sounds as though Williams will later insist that her remarks were misprinted or changed—she doesn't seem convinced the words printed were hers, based on the "what I supposedly said" statement—but for the time being she at least wanted to offer an apology for her words as printed in the article.   

This incident is a bad moment for Serena in a year where so much has gone right for her. She's 43-2 on the season and has won six tournaments total, including the French Open, and hasn't lost a match since the final of the Qatar Total Open back in February. 

Her win at the French Open was her 16th Grand Slam title and her third in four slam appearances. She also won two gold medals at the 2012 London Olympics (singles and doubles) and has reasserted herself as the most dominant player in women's tennis.

With Wimbledon scheduled to start on Monday, the red-hot Williams will look to put this behind her and build on her recent string of victories. 


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