Tennis superstar Serena Williams apologized Wednesday for victim-blaming remarks she made in reference to the Steubenville rape case that appeared in a recent Rolling Stone profile.
During an interview for the piece, which was posted online Tuesday, Williams said, “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?”
The comments ignited a firestorm of controversy, forcing Williams to address the issue once again, which she did via a statement she posted to her website.
“What happened in Steubenville was a real shock for me,” she wrote. “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.”
She continued: “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.”
Williams casts doubt on whether she actually said what’s been attributed to her, but she may want to walk that part back as well because, as it turns out, the interview was taped. At least that’s what Stephen Rodrick, the author of the piece, told Poynter.
“The interview is on tape. Other than that, I’ll let the story speak for itself,” he said.
—Posted by Tracy Bloom.