Serena’s Apology: The Net Isn’t Impressed

The tennis star released a statement addressing her victim-blaming Steubenville statements in a recent interview.

Serena Williams (Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Serena Williams (Clive Rose/Getty Images)

(The Root) — Tennis star Serena Williams has released an official statement attempting an apology for her victim-blaming statements in a Rolling Stone interview released this week.

As they were watching the news, interviewer Stephen Rodrick asked Serena her thoughts on the Steubenville, Ohio, case, in which two high school football players were convicted of raping an incapacitated 16-year-old girl.

After Williams said that she wasn’t “blaming the girl,” she went on to do just that, saying that the victim was “lucky” and that she “shouldn’t have put herself in that position.” Naturally, there was quite an outcry from many across the Internet, who rightly branded Serena’s comments as victim-blaming. This morning she attempted damage control via an “apology” in which she takes absolutely no responsibility for her comments. She states: “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.”

Yep. She pulled the old “I was misquoted” card. It wasn’t her fault; it was that trickster of a reporter! Williams goes on to point out that she “fought all [her] career for women’s equality, women’s equal rights,” and other important woman things, so clearly there’s no way she could ever say something so offensive. This is essentially the same as racists proving how not racist they are by saying that they have friends of different races.

What this shows us is that women are not immune to or exempt from the poisonous thinking of rape culture. It’s very possible that Williams just didn’t know that what she said was offensive or why, because that line of thinking is the societal norm. And you know what? There’s no harm in that. I’d have so much respect for Serena had she said, “Listen. I was wrong. I didn’t understand that I was blaming the victim, but I see now that I was, and I’m sorry for what I said [as opposed to “what I supposedly said”]. I am working to educate myself further on the matter.”

“I’m sorry you feel that way,” “I’m sorry if you took it that way” and “I’m sorry that this is what you think I said” are not apologies, and Twitter isn’t buying it.