Serena Williams has apologized after reportedly appearing to criticize the victim in high-profile Steubenville rape case.
Rolling Stone magazine quoted world tennis number one Serena Williams as saying the teenager in the Steubenville, Ohio, case “shouldn’t have put herself in that position”.
Serena Williams has now released a statement on her website saying she was “deeply sorry for what was written”.
In March, two high school footballers were convicted of the Ohio rape.
The case, involving a 16-year-old girl, fiercely divided the small town, attracting nationwide media attention.
In an interview posted on Rolling Stone‘s website on Tuesday, Serena Williams was quoted as saying: “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.”
Serena Williams has apologized after reportedly appearing to criticize the victim in high-profile Steubenville rape case
According to Rolling Stone, Serena Williams added that the girl “shouldn’t have put herself in that position, unless they slipped her something, then that’s different”.
While not denying she made the statements, Serena Williams appeared on Wednesday to cast doubt on their accuracy.
Serena Williams said in a statement on her website: “What happened in Steubenville was a real shock for me. I was deeply saddened. For someone to be raped, and at only 16, 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 16-year-old child.”
Serena Williams, a 16-time Grand Slam champion, is preparing to defend her title at Wimbledon next week.
Delhi case of five men charged with the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman has been moved to a fast-track court for trial.
Lawyers for the defendants say that the case will get under way on Monday.
A sixth suspect, who is thought to be 17, will be tried separately in a youth court if it is confirmed he is a minor.
The case has shocked India and sparked a debate about the treatment of women. If convicted, the men could face the death penalty.
In the wake of the public outcry and nationwide protests, the government promised a fast-track legal process for this and other rape cases.
It announced it was setting up six fast-track courts in Delhi to allow crimes against women to be dealt with swiftly. Legal proceedings in India sometimes involve years of delays.
The five accused have been named as Ram Singh, his brother Mukesh, Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur.
The lawyer for Ram Singh, said he would file a petition arguing for the case to be transferred out of Delhi, fearing that the proceedings might be prejudiced because of the intense media interest.
“We are sure we will not get justice in Delhi,” VK Ananad said.
Delhi case of five men charged with the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman has been moved to a fast-track court for trial
Last week another lawyer claimed that the men had been tortured and coerced into confessing they were guilty. Officials refused to comment on the allegations, citing legal restrictions.
The lawyers for two of the suspects have said they will plead not guilty. It is unclear how the three accused will plead. Prosecutors have said they have extensive forensic evidence.
The victim, a physiotherapy student who cannot be named in India for legal reasons, and a male friend were attacked on a bus in south Delhi on December 16. She died two weeks later in hospital in Singapore.
Campaigners are calling for tougher rape laws and reforms to the police, who – critics say – often fail to file charges against accused attackers.
The government has said that it will bring in stronger sexual assault laws and has established several committees to recommend changes in the law.