Serena Williams Clarifies Her Steubenville Victim-Blaming Comments

Illustration for article titled Serena Williams Clarifies Her Steubenville Victim-Blaming Comments

After news broke late Tuesday afternoon that Serena Williams had some valuable opinions to share about the Steubenville rape case, it seemed only a matter of time before she'd have to come out and clarify those comments. That time is now.


In a statement on her website, Williams writes:

“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.”


A reminder that Williams told Rolling Stone, in part:

"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?"

Update: The author of the piece, Stephen Roderick, told Poynter, "The interview is on tape. Other than that, I’ll let the story speak for itself."

This has been another edition of Celebrity Backtrack.

Image via Julian Finney/Getty



Do we really live in a world where a person cannot hold these two separate thoughts:

(1) What those boys who were convicted in Steubenville did is horribly wrong and they deserved to be punished; and

(2) It's unfortunate and probably unhealthy to be a sixteen year old who gets drunk to the point of blacking and passing out and maybe either parental involvement or education should be involved to try and prevent that in the future.

Because, that's sort of what I see in Serena's comments. The closest I think she came to blaming the victim was to say that she was not blaming the victim.

I'm sure I'll get slammed for saying this, so have at it. But, I think it's ok and not contradictory to hold both thoughts.