Serena Williams — Getty Images
If you're a famous athlete, one of the key things you should learn is just to avoid talking on any hot button topic. Serena Williams has been a professional since 1995, so she's been around the block with the media a time or two.
Yet she still has those moments that make you just shake your head.
One happened in her recent Rolling Stone interview. Williams talked with Stephen Rodrick and let a few things fly, with the most puzzling being her take on the Steubenville rape case.
If you aren't familiar, a 16-year-old girl who was passed out from alcohol was raped by two high school football players on August 12, 2012. The incapacitated victim was photographed and assaulted in a horrible situation that made national news for months. The football players were both found guilty of rape in March and for some reason Williams started talking about this story during her interview.
Here is the excerpt from the article, courtesy of 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."
Seriously what is the point of Serena bringing this up, even if she really believes it? Williams didn't go out of her way to blame the 16-year-old victim, but to question her judgment even a little in a case like this is inexcusable.
The whole quote makes you scratch your head, but the most puzzling part is that Serena is questioning a woman's judgment after she was sexually assaulted by two men. No matter if you think getting so drunk you pass out is a bad move or not, to not be 100 percent sympathetic to this poor young girl is completely senseless.
You have to think that Williams will definitely come out and apologize for this comment, as she should. CNN had to take its medicine after it was criticized for being sympathetic toward the two men after the verdict was announced and Serena will have to do the same.
Still, it just seems like a weird thing to bring up in a national interview in front of a reporter who's writing about everything you have to say.
Sometimes it's best just to say nothing at all.
Update, June 19, 10:22 AM ET -- Serena released the following statement via Twitter:
“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.”
Update, June 19, 11:41 AM ET -- The author of the piece, Stephen Rodrick, said to Poynter, "The interview is on tape. Other than that, I’ll let the story speak for itself.”
- Serena Williams
- Stephen Rodrick