After Rolling Stone quoted Serena Williams saying the Steubenville victim was partially at fault for her rape, the tennis star issued a weak non-apology, vaguely suggesting that she was misquoted. At a Sunday afternoon press conference on the eve of Wimbledon, Williams issued a clearer apology for her rape comments, and expressed remorse for possibly insulting rival Maria Sharapova, though she went on to complain that the reporter was unfairly “eavesdropping” on her conversation.
In the more gossipy of the two controversies to emerge from the article, Williams said on the phone, “She begins every interview with ‘I’m so happy. I’m so lucky’ – it’s so boring … She’s still not going to be invited to the cool parties. And, hey, if she wants to be with the guy with a black heart, go for it.” Writer Stephen Rodrick makes an “educated guess” that she’s talking about Sharapova, who’s dating her ex Grigor Dimitrov. Apparently Sharapova made the same assumption, because she said on Saturday, “If she wants to talk about something personal, maybe she should talk about her relationship, and her boyfriend that was married, and is getting a divorce and has kids.”
Williams never admitted that she was talking about Sharapova, but said she sought out her competitor on Thursday and tried to make amends. “I said: ‘Look, I want to personally apologize to you if you are offended by being brought into my situation. I want to take this moment to just pour myself, be open, say I’m very sorry for this whole situation’.” She went on to note that she’s “used to dealing with professional reporters.” Williams continued:
“I’m used to dealing with these people not writing or commenting on a private conversation that I may have or kind of listening in or eavesdropping and then reporting on it. You guys have completely spoiled me. With that being said, I’ve been in the business for a little over 200 years, so I should definitely, definitely know better.”
As for the Steubenville victim, Williams said she’s talked with the girl and her mother. “We came to a wonderful understanding, and we’re constantly in contact,” said Williams. She added, “I apologize for everything that was said in that article,” but didn’t delve into precisely how her thoughts on rape have changed. “I feel like, you know, you say things without having all the information,” she explained. “It’s really important before you make certain comments to have a full list, have all the information, all the facts.”