(NEW YORK) — Serena Williams is apologizing for off-the-cuff remarks she made during an interview with Rolling Stone about the 16-year-old victim of the Steubenville sexual assault case, in which two high school football players were sent to jail.
“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,” Williams said in a statement to ABC’s Good Morning America.
“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,” Williams wrote.
“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,” she added. “My prayers and support always goes out to the rape victim. In this case, most especially, to an innocent 16 year old child.”
Williams’ remarks, published in the upcoming issue of Rolling Stone magazine fresh off her win at the French Open, drew widespread criticism after they were picked up by sports news website Deadspin.com.
Williams and the magazine interviewer were watching television when a news segment on the Ohio case aired. She said the 16-year-old victim “put herself in that position.”
“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,” Williams said during the interview with Rolling Stone contributor Stephen Rodrick.
“She’s lucky…she shouldn’t have put herself in that position, unless they slipped her something, then that’s different,” she added.
Two Steubenville, Ohio, high school football players, Trent Mays and Ma’Lik Richmond were convicted of sexually assaulting the 16-year-old in March.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
David Williams, CNN
Kristina Sgueglia, CNN
Joe Sterling and Darran Simon, CNN