Christopher Polk/Getty Images
Christopher Polk/Getty Images
Serena Williams is known for speaking her mind, but her recent comments about a 16-year-old rape victim are stirring up some significant controversy.
In an interview with Rolling Stone's July issue, the tennis star weighs in on the the Steubenville, Ohio, rape case in which a drunk teenage girl was sexually assaulted and photographed by two high school football players on the night of Aug. 11, 2012.
When coverage of the controversial case came on the TV, Serena, 31, asked her interviewer, "Do you think it was fair, what they got?" She clearly had her own opinion, saying, "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?" she continued. "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."
Serena responded to the backlash about her comments with a statement on her blog: "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. 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."
"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," she added. "My prayers and support always goes out to the rape victim. In this case, most especially, to an innocent sixteen year old child."
Ariel Zwang, CEO of Safe Horizon, one of the nation's leading victim service providers, released the following statement on Wednesday: "Williams' comments about the Steubenville rape victim were truly shocking and deplorable. While it is a postive step that she has apologized for suggesting the victim was somehow to blame, it's troubling that she still believes that the victim's trauma and the perpetrators' punishment are equally tragic. If we look at Steubenville as an unfortunate incident of recklessness and happenstance, and not as a crime in which these young men made the choice to rape the young woman, took control of the victim and completely violated her, then we will see more cases like this."
Meanwhile, Serena hopes to have children of her own—someday.
"I've seriously thought of freezing my eggs–no joke," she said. "I've thought about it, but with all the drug testing, if you do that, then you can test positive or something. Maybe I'll check into it again."
"I've thought it would be cool to have a baby young," she said. "You know, be my road dog—like my dogs, they travel the world—but there's always something you have to give up for success. Everything comes at a cost. Just what are you willing to pay for it?"