Uproar Over Serena Williams' Rape Comment

Williams apologizes, appears to deny she made the comment
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 19, 2013 9:31 AM CDT
Uproar Over Serena Williams' Rape Comment
Serena Williams holds the trophy after defeating Russia's Maria Sharapova in the women's final of the French Open tennis tournament, at Roland Garros stadium in Paris, Saturday June 8, 2013.   (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

This probably wasn't the focus Rolling Stone was going for when it ran a profile on Serena Williams headlined, "The Great One." Nonetheless, attention has centered on one controversial comment that comes toward the end of its lengthy article, made by Williams in reference to the Steubenville rape case as she watches the news:

  • "Do you think it was fair, what they got? [Two high school football players were found guilty of rape.] 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' follow-up statement, posted on her website: "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."

A few reactions to the initial quote:

  • This is different than, say, an outburst at the US Open, which Williams has refused to apologize for in the past, writes Chris Chase in USA Today. "Williams can’t hide behind a cheap call or aggressive umpiring. She went too far. If she doesn’t know it yet, she’ll know it soon enough."
  • On Vulture, Margaret Hartmann calls Williams' opinion "breathtakingly insensitive," and highlights this tweet, from journalist Jamil Smith: "Pro tip for @serenawilliams or others discussing rape: if 'I'm not blaming the girl, but...' exits your mouth, stop there. There is no 'but.'"
  • At Jezebel, Katie JM Baker keeps it simple: "Whyyyyyyy." On Salon, Katie McDonough goes with "clueless."
(More Steubenville stories.)

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