Serena Williams: Sorry for Wanting to Know Why Stuebenville Victim Decided to Get Raped

Bad move, champ.

By Jamilah King Jun 19, 2013

Update: June 19, 2013 at 10:26pm EST: Serena Williams has apologized. 

"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. My prayers and support always goes out to the rape victim. In this case, most especially, to an innocent sixteen year old child."


Serena Williams got herself in trouble with a recent Rolling Stone interview. The story ostensibly had nothing to do with the high-profile case in which two small-town Ohio high school football players were accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl. But that didn’t stop the star tennis player from questioning why the victim decided to drink so much that night and then speak up afterward. From Deadspin:

We watch the news for a while, and the infamous Steubenville rape case flashes on the TV–two high school football players raped a 16-year-old, while other students watched and texted details of the crime. Serena just shakes her head. "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’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."

No doubt Williams will apologize, but it’s hard to believe she could be so careless in a national interview. To be fair, seems like Serena was wrestling with complex emotions and lost her way in her explanation of them. To read more related to this, read Akiba Solomon’s take from earlier this year.