CNN — Tennis ace Serena Williams clarified Wednesday the controversial comments she made in a magazine article about the victim’s role in the Steubenville, Ohio, rape case that garnered national headlines earlier this year.
In March, two 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 a news report about the case appeared on a nearby TV screen during the 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 sixteen, 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.
Stephen Rodrick, who wrote 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.”
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