Serena Williams, in comments made to Rolling Stone, said the victim bore some responsibility for the Steubenville, Ohio, rape. A day after the startling remarks surfaced Tuesday, Williams issued a statement on her blog saying, “I by no means would say or insinuate that she was at all to blame.”
Williams made the apology on her blog Wednesday after comments attributed to her in an interview with Rolling Stone were made public on Tuesday. She allegedly said, “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 characterizes the rapists’ actions as “stupid” while also questioning the fairness of their sentencing. Ma’lik Richmond was convicted of rape and was sentenced to one year in juvenile detention, with the possibility of staying in detention until the age of 21, while Trent Mays was given two years. Mays and Richmond may also have to register as sex offenders.
In Williams' blog post she states, “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.” Williams states she will be in contact with the victim’s family and said she was “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,” Williams concludes.
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Williams’ alleged comments are reminiscent of Royal Mayo’s comments on the Steubenville case. In his interview with IBTimes, Mayo stated, “She said her mother brought her to the party, at 3 o'clock, with a bottle of vodka,” he continues, “Where did you get it, young lady? You brought it from home? Where’d you get it? You came to the party with your mother.” Mayo also questioned the victim’s motives, claiming she wanted to leave the party with Mays, inferring she gave consent to future events.