Preparing for Wimbledon, which starts on Monday, June 24, Rolling Stone Magazine capitalized on the tournament with an in-depth profile of the oldest #1 female tennis star in the world, 31-year-old Serena Williams. An enterprising reporter apparently asked Williams, who regained her #1 ranking with an impressive French Open win this month, about the Steubenville rape case. Let's refresh our collective memories about the case, as reported by USA Today:
Two players from a high school football team in Steubenville were convicted in March of raping a drunken 16-year-old girl. One of the boys was ordered to serve an additional year for photographing the girl naked.
The boys also posted the pictures on various social media sites. The case gained widespread attention in part because of the callousness with which other students used social media to gossip about it.
Williams, a 16-time Grand Slam champion, was quoted as saying:
"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 shouldn't have put herself in that position, unless they slipped her something, then that's different."
She was plainspoken in saying that the girl should have used a little common sense, while also saying she wasn't blaming the girl.
I agreed with what Williams said, generally. We've all had the option in our teenage years, I think, to choose to drink something or take something from people we consider our friends.
Collectively, women (and girls) have to be smart enough, especially in the age of social media, to choose maturity and temperance over a good time.
"Age is mandatory. Maturity is optional. (I choose the optional one)"
But Williams' initial comments about the girl in the Steubenville rape case may have been too blunt, and taken as insensitive, even cruel. The blogoverse and the social media world, and even the American Tennis Association (ATA), criticized Williams for her comments.
In response, Williams issued the following tweet, regarding the remarks she made to Rolling Stone Magazine about her remarks:
“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 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, according to USA Today, reached out to the girl's family yesterday from London. The family accepted her apology.
Here's why it might be so difficult to truly like and understand "The Great One," Ms. Williams. As Rolling Stone points out, in the recent documentary Venus and Serena, Willaims discussed her many personas: There is Summer, the one who writes thank-you notes; Psycho Serena, the tennis player (I'm not out to make friends, but I don't want to make enemies," she told Rolling Stone); and Taquanda, whom Serena describes simply as "not a Christian." It was Taquanda, according to Serena's mom, who threw a tantrum at the U.S. Open in 2009.
"Taquanda got loose," her mother Oracene told Rolling Stone.
I would suggest that the 'optional' maturity she discussed in her means that Taquanda, the "not a Christian" girl, should be put to rest forever, as Williams takes responsibility for her actions.
The immature person in her would have used the excuse of 'Taquanda' getting the best of Serena.
The mature person would not have said it at all. However, when loose remarks hurt someone else, it takes a fairly mature person to apologize for actions, and ultimately, she did.
In this case, the offending comments needed to be phrased in small, byte-sized, quotable chunks, showing loads of sympathy for a girl wronged and humiliated at a vulnerable age. Might I suggest that Williams, to complete her maturity, might also learn tact and sensitivity toward others.
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