Serena Williams' Troubling Apology for Steubenville Rape Comments

(Getty Images)On Wednesday, the day after Serena Williams called a 16-year-old rape victim "lucky" in a Rolling Stone profile, the tennis star released a strange, somewhat veiled apology.

"For someone to be raped, and at only sixteen, is such a horrible tragedy!" Williams posted on her website, after her comments sparked heated outrage on Tuesday. "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."

On Tuesday, Rolling Stone published a four-page article on the tennis superstar. In it, Williams opens up on everything from freezing her eggs to her battles with body image. But it was her comments on the Steubenville rape case that stain an otherwise quirky impression of the athlete.

Near the end of the article, Williams is watching news of the two high school football stars sentenced to a year in Juvenile Hall after raping a classmate, who was later mocked by other teammates.
"Do you think it was fair, what they got?" asked Williams, in the interview. "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."

The quotes, as they read, are hard to even process. For the victim who has faced backlash from members of a football-over-morals community, the idea of an athletic superstar — a female at that — appearing to side with the attackers, is shattering. Williams, in her statement Wednesday, denies she made those "supposed" comments, but doesn't explain how such a long-winded misquote could have happened.

"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," Williams wrote in Wednesday's response. "My prayers and support always goes out to the rape victim. In this case, most especially, to an innocent sixteen year old child."

Still, even her apology appears to offer an olive branch to "the accused." It's hard to understand how Williams, a woman who has championed over so many challenges on and off the court, could have such troubling, confusing views on abuse. If she was a role model for young girls before, she's now an example of how tenuous that term can be.