Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Serena Backtracks on Rolling Stone Quotes

(June 19, 2013)--Serena Williams is doing a bit of damage control for some comments she made to Rolling Stone magazine about the Steubenville rape case. The piece, released online on Wednesday and immediately picked up by Deadspin, caused waves of criticism and debate. Less than a day later, Williams took to the internet to clarify things a bit.

In the piece, Williams was quoted as saying: "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."

Predictably, backlash started immediately, with the polarizing Williams the subject of many an online tirade. Today, Williams was quick to try and quell any vitriol by publishing a statement on her homepage. Though the apology is welcome, Williams isn't exactly owning up to the quotes, referring to the words as something she "supposedly said." Not a great angle to take, particularly because her original quotes about the horrible crime were about owning up to the inherent responsibilities of life (the crux of which few can argue), but nonetheless, the apology should help mitigate the harm that Williams' words have caused.

“What happened in Steubenville was a real shock for me," wrote Williams. "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.”

The article, written by Stephen Rodrick, will print in the July 4 issue of Rolling Stone. "When you write a profile there’s always the fear that one statement is going to be cherrypicked and it will overwhelm the piece, but that’s just the way it goes sometimes," Rodrick told Amy Fetherolf, in an interview with The Changeover. "If you read the entire piece, I think you’ll get a different understanding of Serena than if you just repeat the soundbite. You may like her more, you may like her less."

And now, back to your regularly scheduled pre-Wimbledon programming...

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