Tennis ace Serena Williams apologized Wednesday after controversial comments she made in a magazine article about the victim’s role in the Steubenville, Ohio, rape case.
In March, two Ohio high school football players were convicted of raping a drunk teen at a party and posting pictures of the incident online.
In an upcoming issue of Rolling Stone magazine, Williams talks about the convicted rapists after the case appeared on a nearby TV screen during her interview. “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 told Rolling Stone.
Of the victim, Williams also says in the interview, “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."
The comments, posted on Rolling Stone’s website Tuesday, immediately caused a firestorm on social media, particularly on Twitter where users castigated the tennis star.
On Wednesday, Williams released a statement on her website clarifying her remarks.
“What happened in Steubenville was a real shock for me. I was deeply saddened. For someone to be raped, and at only 16, is such a horrible tragedy! For both families involved -- that of the rape victim and of the accused,” she wrote.
“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,” Williams added.
The writer of the Rolling Stone article stands by his reporting, telling the Poynter Institute, “The interview is on tape. Other than that, I’ll let the story speak for itself.”