Serena Williams Stirs Up a Storm: Calls Out a WTA Top Five Player; Comments on Steubenville Rape Victim [UPDATED]
(June 18, 2013) Serena Williams has made the news over the last 24 hours for playing ping pong with fans at the Heathrow airport, and for being impeccably dressed during a Burberry fashion show in London. Now, from the other side of the emotional spectrum, a quotes controversy has come to light from an upcoming Rolling Stone profile on the tennis star. And it’s not pretty.
As Deadspin reported, Williams was quite vocal during a recent Rolling Stone interview with the author Stephen Rodrick. The first hot topic? Her thoughts on the 16-year-old Steubenville rape victim. Take a deep breath.
“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.'”
But the controversial quote machine that is Serena didn’t end there. She went on, calling out one of her fellow WTA players.
“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.”
Since when was Williams so open with the press? At times, you would be lucky to get a few sentences out of her in her post-match press conferences. The author, Rodrick, goes on a limb and takes an “educated guess” that the player in question is Maria Sharapova, who is currently dating fellow tennis player Grigor Dimitrov. However, there is another top five female player currently in a public relationship … Victoria Azarenka and her beau RedFoo. So which couple is it?
In March 2012, Williams and Dimitrov seemed to have a friendly relationship, so much so, that Williams cheered on the Bulgarian when he defeated Tomas Berdych at the Sony Open for his first top-10 win. After the match, Dimitrov was asked about his friendship with the American.
Q: We saw Serena up there rooting for you right now. Can you talk about that friendship a little bit?
“What do you want to know? No, I’m kidding. No, she’s a good friend of mine. She came after in the locker room – not in the locker room, the fitness room to congratulate me. It was very nice of her, yeah.”
What changed from one year ago if the “black heart” Williams is referring to is indeed Dimitrov’s? Perhaps there is a deeper history between the two than we are familiar with … and maybe it’s not Dimitrov and Sharapova that Williams was referring to.
Another option is that somehow Williams’ quotes were misrepresented or completely out of context, and she has yet to publicly respond to the article and quotes.
One thing is for certain though: Williams will probably be more hesitant sharing much insight with the press this week in Wimbledon again.
[UPDATE] Williams released a statement on her official website on Wednesday, apologizing for the controversial comments in the Rolling Stone article about the Steubenville, Ohio, rape case.
“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.”
The BNP Paribas Open is just under way, and with all the recent tennis festivities including the BNP Paribas Showdowns and K-Swiss Desert Smash, tennis players have been preparing for Indian Wells in a variety of fun and entertaining ways. We’ll give you the full run down on Novak Djokovic, Juan Martin del Potro, Caroline Wozniacki, Mardy Fish, Jack Sock, Daniela Hantuchova and many more!
At the K-Swiss Desert Smash, Novak Djokovic practiced his victory celebration when he partnered up with actor Jeremy Piven, while also striking some Madonna-like poses during play.
Mardy Fish and Djokovic practiced their “hanging out” skills on-court to the delight of fans.
The Bryan Brothers and Sam Querrey played some tennis, while Fernando Verdasco attempted his best Ray Charles impression.
No tennis party would be complete nowadays without some RedFoo action, so Jack Sock, Paul Henri Mathieu and French DJ Bob Sinclair posed with RedFoo for some photos after playing.
Daniela Hantuchova stood uncomfortably with the Party Rock Crew during the K-Swiss Desert Smash Player’s Party arrivals. Standing through a unique photo-op like this should prepare her for ANY awkward battles on the tennis court this week.
Speaking of Hantuchova, she and Melanie Oudin helped with the women’s main draw ceremony at the BNP Paribas Open, while Tommy Robredo helped with the men’s draw. That’s some heavy lifting of giant tennis balls there!
On the East Coast in New York City, Juan Martin del Potro gave his arm muscles a workout as he hoisted the most adorable (and talented) little girl during the BNP Paribas Showdown. The pair teamed up to play a few entertaining points against Rafael Nadal and actor Ben Stiller. (Full video here.)
Meanwhile during the Hong Kong edition of the BNP Paribas Showdown, Caroline Wozniacki improved her footwork by dancing with a dragon and a ballboy.
In London, Johnny Marray practiced his mini-tennis skills in prep for the big stage at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
Two days later after participating in the BNP Paribas Showdown in New York City, Azarenka took to the Indian Wells practice courts with her boyfriend RedFoo and chatted up a storm on the sidelines.
And last, but certainly not least, Andy Murray also hit the Indian Wells practice courts for some good preparations. We can now checkmark the “Prepare” from off his t-shirt and get ready to “Attack” and “Destroy” next!
Azarenka parties with Redfoo, Raonic suave for promos, Na Li does charity tour: What tennis players do after losing at the US Open
By Romi Cvitkovic
Tennis players are a peculiar breed. They lose nearly every week, but they get back on their feet just as often – many times with invigorating activities to keep their focus in check. We catch up with Victoria Azarenka, Milos Raonic, Laura Robson, Maria Sharapova and Na Li as we see what they were up to after losing at the US Open, including fashion shows, parties, charity tours and Olympic parades.
Some players party with Redfoo after a tough loss in the women’s championship match…
World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka has had a familiar face in her player’s box during several of her matches at the US Open, rock star Redfoo of the group LMFAO, and Sunday was no different. The upcoming sponsor of the Party Rock Open in Las Vegas, Redfoo fistpumped and cheered his way into Vika’s heart. The duo – with some extra friends – partied just hours after her heart-breaking loss. And apparently there’s video coming up of the night as well. Guess a good party goes a long way to turn that frown upside down, Vika.
Some players attend glamorous events …
When Canadian Milos Raonic lost in the fourth round to Andy Murray, he jetted to Toronto for a plethora of events and appearances, including a Hello! Magazine Canada party where he sported the casual look:
… an amfAR Cinema Against AIDS event where he posed with Miss Universe Canada 2012 Sahar Biniaz. Do I smell a crush, Milos?
… and looking equally suave with a hint of pink and that same killer smile, Milos attended the Glitz and Glamour Breast Cancer Benefit alongside fellow countryman Daniel Nestor.
Some players forget their worries by attending New York Fashion Week …
Even before the US Open began, Maria Sharapova blitzed through the New York media scene with her “Sugarpova” candy launch. So after her abrupt semifinal finish at the Slam, Maria needed a good way to wind down. After what better way for the fashionista than taking in the Victoria Beckham show with good friend Anna Wintour? Looking fresh and outfitted in a color block jacket and elastic waistband red trousers, Maria also had an intimate conversation with the fashion icon. Anything that helps you wind down, Maria, we’re all for it.
Some players travel back to the Olympic stadium …
British teenager Laura Robson had her best results at a Slam by making the fourth round, defeating Na Li and ending Kim Clijsters’ career before losing to defending champion Sam Stosur. But Laura wasn’t disappointed. That gave her the opportunity to return to the Olympic village for the Paralympic Closing Ceremonies and participate in the Olympic and Paralympic heroes’ victory parade earlier today – sporting her silver medal in mixed doubles, of course! Compatriot Ross Hutchins joined in as paparazzi.
Some players launch a new book…
Chinese player Na Li is always a good sport even with her surprise loss to Robson last week. But she was back in business in Beijing over the weekend promoting her new book “Play Alone” and rebutting a statement from China’s tennis chief.
Last week at the US Open, China’s tennis chief Sun Jinfang blamed Li’s failure at the US Open due to a lack of education, saying “We have seen for a long time that Li Na can suddenly collapse. Why is this? Because athletes like her have not received a good education.” Her rebuttal came at her book signing press conference: “I don’t think my temper has anything to do with my education. I’m not angry with such talks. There is a Chinese old saying that rumors stop before the wise…. I’m not worried about being misunderstood. I just say what I want to say.” You go, girl.
Earlier, Li played some street badminton, table tennis and even piano(!) with kids during her charity tour to impoverished schools in Beijing, donating money, books and stationery to the charity school. A heart of gold.
In summary, the life of a tennis player is never boring or dull even when you expect it to be after one of the biggest events in the sport. Next up, the ladies have already begun with their tournaments this week in Tashkent and Quebec, and the men are set to begin the Davis Cup semifinals.