Posted June 18, 2013

Serena Williams offers controversial views on Steubenville rape trial and opponents

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Serena Williams' upcoming Rolling Stones feature includes controversial comments. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Serena Williams’ upcoming Rolling Stone feature includes controversial comments. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Serena Williams has expressed controversial opinions regarding the Steubenville rape trial and a pair of tennis opponents in an upcoming magazine feature.

Deadspin has excerpts of a Rolling Stone story authored by Stephen Rodrick. Rodrick’s story includes Williams commenting on the trial involving members of the Steubenville (Ohio) High School football team found guilty of raping a drunken 16-year-old girl amid accusations of a cover-up to protect the community’s athletes.

From the Rolling Stone feature via 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.”

Williams’ comments on the rape trial could serve to otherwise overshadow additional interview excerpts that include her suggesting a competitor in love (Maria Sharapova?)  should “give it a rest.”

“There are people who live, breathe and dress tennis. I mean seriously, give it a rest.” Serena exits the car and the conversation moves on to a Top Five player who is now in love. “She begins every interview with ‘I’m so happy. I’m so lucky’—it’s so boring,” says Serena in a loud voice. “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.”

NGUYEN: Sloane Stephens says Serena Williams uses mind games to intimidate foes

Williams also emphatically denies that she has been — or ever wants to be — a mentor to Sloane Stephens. 

I don’t know where all that mentor stuff came from. I am definitely not that girl’s mentor.


29 comments
cleopatra209
cleopatra209

testmaterials12,

people continue to think that because we urge girls/women to use caution when they are out in the world that this seems to imply that we think that their poor decisions results in whatever happens to them and that it is their fault. i am not saying that. bad things happen to people who take all kinds of precautions not to be hurt/raped or killed. but, it can happen anyway, we all know this. i'm just saying you have to be on your game all the time when it comes to your personal safety. no one is going to care about or take care of you better than you; not your so called friends or anyone else. you have to have your guard up and be wise about your safety. being drunk, out of control and unaware of what is happening to you, is not being in control of you and your safety.  as another commenter said on this board or another board, where are the parents with curfews for their kids? why don't you know where your children are? where is the parenting? yes, we can continue to say that even with good parenting, kids will continue to do stupid things. just saying that the world will teach you lessons that you may not deserve, rape/being killed, but once the lesson is completed, it is what it is, you are hurt or dead and the lesson cannot be untaught. RAPE IS WRONG! girls need to understand that no one is going to take care of or care about them better than THEM!

testmaterials12
testmaterials12

Well, we have the law to make sure any ridiculous crime will not go unpunished. Young women should be allowed to behave like they want b/c nobody will never take advantage them in this day in time...we have the freaking authorities to make sure that they go punished Serena!

Parents shouldn't have to teach their children to survive in life b/c it's not their responsibility. Let life teach them, even if Life is unfair. Let life teach them, even if Life decides to be harsh and take their lives in the process. Let life teach them, even if they end up being humiliated in the process. 

We live in a day in time where there's little to no crime Serena, so how dare you suggest for young women to protect themselves and behave in a manner in which monsters will not take advantage of them. That's insensitive, horrible, deplorable and despicable for you to even suggest this.

Young women shouldn't have to be responsible or be held accountable because guess what, men are not really predators and they very rarely commit crime anymore, because we have the law that's going to find them and bring them to justice!

Serena you're wrong to suggest that the parents should teach their children! I didn't even teach my children to look both ways before crossing the street. Yes, one of them was run over by a truck, but I shouldn't have had to let them know that this world is evil and you're going to always have irresponsible people regardless of how far we think we've come. The driver was charged with vehicular homicide but I still don't have a child. That's ok because at least we all can agree on the fact that me not teaching my child to look both ways before crossing the street had nothing to do with them being hit.

matt37
matt37

Serena isn't exactly a paragon of morality of wisdom.  Even scarier are the comments below that basically say that this girl bears some responsibility for being raped.  Uh, no, she doesn't.  No way, no how.  For those that beg to differ.......what if she stayed stone sober all night but wore a really short skirt and a revealing top.....would she bear some responsibility for being raped then?

Psy Power
Psy Power

Just another reason why most modern athletes need to focus comments on their little world within pop culture. Gone are the days of Bill Russell. John Carlos, Tommie Smith, Jackie Robinson, Jim Brown, Bill Walton - and some others - who saw sports as an offshoot of society which afforded athletes an opportunity to cogently talk about issues which could not be ignored once the games were played in stadiums, ballparks and arenas.

cleopatra209
cleopatra209

IOWA, said it best. there are inherent responsibilities that people learn to survive in this world. LET'S ALL AGREE THAT RAPE IS WRONG! children need to be taught many things by their parents. if, you're a gun owner, how to respect and handle a gun or keep it out of the child's hands. obey the law! no underage drinking, no drinking and driving. no texting or cell phone usage while driving. but, kids do it anyway, they know that it is wrong and that what they are doing can be dangerous and they do it anyway, because they are special and nothing will happen to them or others when they behave irresponsibly. there are many things that we learn as we mature to insure our health and safety. this poor young girl learned a terrible lesson about the dangers of our world, because of her underage and illegal drinking. you simply have to think about the possible consequences of your behavior, it can get you killed or you can kill someone. this is just the reality of the world that we live in. you cannot be naive thinking that you are special and that nothing will happen to you. you either learn this from your parents or you learn it from the world!

ajo
ajo

horrible, idiotic, nasty, insensitive. 

RalphSSimpsonJr
RalphSSimpsonJr

These comments from Serena are unfortunate (if accurate).  Certainly the young girl's being drunk should be addressed, but only in private by her parents/family after all matters of the rape legal situation have been settled.  I still remain a fan of Serena and the Williams family in general because of all that they've overcome to succeed in tennis-a factor that trumps in importance whether or not she's a nice or considerate person.

I am curious as to how trustworthy the person providing these quotes-Steven Rodrick of Rolling Stone-is.  If he does have a history of having the subjects of his interviews indicating later that they were misquoted, then I can still give Serena Williams the benefit of any doubt regarding the comments attributed to her in this article.  Otherwise, I'll continue to root for her in competitive tennis but be glad I'm not close to her personally.

shralster
shralster

Serena may well be one of the best female athletes in history, but its comments like this which make it hard to argue against her also being a complete buffoon.

notme
notme

Wow, I used to admire Serena. I had no idea s he was so ignorant. Would she feel the same if it was a sister or friend who was raped? Aside from that, this rape is an example of what our society has become...pretty scary and sad.

6marK6
6marK6

I am always amazed that they put microphones in front of professional athletes. What are we expecting to hear from these people? They are generally narcissistic, ignorant and attention starved. 

Mark112
Mark112

Is it Serena talking or the steroids talking? Either way, it's amazing what a superficial idiot Ms. Williams is. Yet despite her lack of intellect, millions of her minions hang on her every mispronounced word. No wonder she's such a B.

pharmachick
pharmachick

Oh, Serena... just NO!

How about we teach our young men that it is unacceptable to commit indecencies on an incapacitated person. Incapacitated can run a range of things from drunk to passed out (for any reason, not just alcohol), to otherwise unable to consent (e.g. physically restrained, under the influence of drugs, emotionally coerced or blackmailed etc).

And what on earth does that girl's virginity [or lack thereof] have to do with this? The direct implication of that statement is that "all 16 year old non-virgins have no recourse to being raped". FFS.

Furthermore, those rapists did *not* make a mistake. They full-well knowingly committed a felony on an stupefied girl that was unable to consent legally because she was incapacitated. Where was the single, upstanding MAN in this group that said "Hey guys, that's NOT okay?". I'll tell you where, it was Malik's cousin that texted him to tell him to stop it and that he was committing an illegal act. But the rest of them there resorted to pack mentality - urination, making foul and disgusting internet videos (no, I *wont* link to it) and taking naked pictures. 

Please, I know that these attitudes are a little (a lot) worse in professional sports because they're so male-dominated. We have high hopes that our female sports stars can help break these toxic and negative attitudes. I have always enjoyed Serena's supreme tennis talent, but no more for me. I cannot reconcile such blatant rape apologist statements with anyone I could admire. 

Lost 1 fan. 

tyesoteric
tyesoteric

Serena is not Sloane Stephens. This amazes me that in any way suggesting that this teenage girl's reckless behavior does not play some part in this horrific situation. Rape is wrong regardless, but it is unacceptable that illegal underage drinking is not examined in this case. The ability for underage women to get into party situations like this must be stopped! Serena is not cruel or heartless, but she is stating the fact that there is a responsibility here on all sides to prevent this from happening.  A sixteen year old should not be having the freedom to be in a setting like that and this needs to be addressed above all things. Whether you like how Serena said it or not, it needs to be addressed. 

HunterBishop
HunterBishop

This is really depressing. Regardless of whether the girl was drunk or not, the girl was raped. 

Rape is rape. There are no qualifiers. 

gopdogg
gopdogg

How long after the interview is published till we get a "zOMG! I was misrepresented! I thought we were off the record!" response from Serena?

matt37
matt37

@testmaterials12 No matter how well they're taught, kids do stupid stuff.  So if your 7 year old fails to look both ways and gets killed by a drunk driver, I'll do the "yeah, that guy shouldn't have been drunk, but his punishment is a little harsh, because you know, that kid should have known better".


There's a huge difference between advocating personal responsibility and suggesting that a 16 year old bears any responsibility for being RAPED because she got drunk at a party.

testmaterials12
testmaterials12

@matt37 You're so right! Serena was so wrong on so many levels to suggest for young women to not put their guard down to the point that monsters can take advantage of them. She's so immoral for even bringing up the idea of personal responsibility. Why should we have to teach our children now days? We have Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets that do a better job in letting our youth know how to behave. Also, the law ALWAYS makes sure every young woman is safe, so there's no need to suggest for them to protect themselves in the first place b/c all young boys have been behaving b/c they're so afraid of the law now that young women don't have anything to worry about. Ugh that Serena!

matt37
matt37

@cleopatra209 Agree with everything you said.....and still think that this girl bears ZERO responsibility for being raped. 

Iowa
Iowa

@6marK6 Exactly what did she say that was inaccurate? So a girl who gets sloppy drunk underage does not bear any responsibility for her condition?

Iowa
Iowa

@pharmachick So young men should be taught how to conduct themselves, but young women shouldn't? Serena was exactly right, there is responsibility on both sides, and the fact that so many in our world don't acknowledge that is a big part of the reason why there are so many divisions on issues like this. The guys never should've done what they did, and the girl never should've gotten herself into that situation in the first place.

HunterBishop
HunterBishop

@tyesoteric I disagree. Underage drinking isn't the problem here; the problem is that two teenage boys took advantage of a girl at a weak moment, without her consent. Whether or not she was drinking illegally or not is immaterial. 

A sixteen year old should not have to worry about what situation she is in. She should be able to parade down the street naked if she so desires without fear of being sexually assaulted. 

Mark112
Mark112

@gopdogg  

I'd say about another five minutes. Maybe Serena will take it out on the Asian lines women again and threaten to eat her heart out a la Mike Tyson (the three-time loser). What a brute. 

matt37
matt37

@testmaterials12 @matt37 Uhhhh.....I said 9 words about Serena Williams.  It amuses me that people take to heart what a tennis player says one way or the other.  What I was talking about was the rest of the animals on here that seem to think this girl somehow deserved to be raped because she got trashed.

matt37
matt37

@Iowa @6marK6 A girl who gets sloppy drunk is responsible for her condition.  She is not responsible for being raped. 

matt37
matt37

@Iowa @pharmachick If I go to the worst neighborhood in town and I get mugged, I'm probably an idiot.  I probably shouldn't be surprised.  But in no way shape or form is it at all my fault that I got mugged.  If this 16 year old stayed sober all night but wore a short skirt and a revealing top, would it be a little bit her fault if she got raped then?  This girl needs to learn some realities of life, but that is completely different than it being at all her fault that she was raped.

tadbanyon
tadbanyon

@HunterBishop @tyesotericOf course, and we should all be able to leave the doors and windows of our homes unlocked every night when we go to sleep. Leaving your door unlocked is not an invitation to be robbed. It doesn't excuse the crime or the thief, and it doesn't make the theft your own fault. 

But my guess is, even though you shouldn't HAVE to, even though you should be able to post a sign on your front door announcing that youre a heavy sleeper and listing whats inside and how much its worth, my guess is you lock yours at night when you go to bed, am I right?

Iowa
Iowa

@tadbanyon@HunterBishop@tyesotericExactly. It's incredibly ignorant and short-sighted and smacks of a lack of personal responsibility for someone to suggest that drinking illegally and heavily is 'immaterial' of what situations they can end up in as a result of their actions. It absolutely matters. If she doesn't do this, she doesn't get into this situation in the first place. No idea why that's so hard for people to understand these days.