New York - World number one Serena Williams, a 16-time Grand Slam singles champion preparing to defend her title at Wimbledon, has made an apology on Wednesday for comments in Rolling Stone magazine about a rape case.
Williams was quoted regarding a case in Steubenville, Ohio, in a story about her posted online on Tuesday by Rolling Stone.
In the case, two players from a high school American football team were convicted last March of raping a drunk 16-year-old girl, with the way other students gossiped about the incident making the attack a topic nationwide.
"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," the magazine quoted Williams as saying.
"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."
On Wednesday, Williams called those remarks "what I supposedly said" in a statement in which she apologised "for what was written" by Rolling Stone.
"What happened in Steubenville was a real shock for me. I was deeply saddened," Williams said.
"For someone to be raped, and at only 16, 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 16-year-old child."