Following her opening round win Monday at Wimbledon, Venus Williams broke down in tears when asked at her post-match press conference how she was dealing with her involvement in a Florida car crash that killed a 78-year-old man.
Asked specifically about her July 1 Facebook message offering condolences to the family of victim Jerome Barson, and if there was anything further she’d like to say, Williams responded: “There are really no words to describe how devastating and…yeah, I…I’m completely speechless and it’s just… I’m just…”
Williams stopped speaking in an attempt to contain her emotions. A Wimbledon official broke the long silence and reminded reporters that Venus was “unable to say anything more about this, so I’d ask you to respect her wishes please.”
Williams began to wipe her eyes repeatedly as the room fell silent. ESPN respectfully cut away to shots of courts at Wimbledon’s All England Club, and also to the text of her Facebook post offering condolences to the Barsons.
When cameras returned to Venus at the press conference, she was sobbing.
“Maybe I should go,” she whispered to the Wimbledon official, who promptly stood and escorted her from the room.
Police say Venus was at fault in the June 9 car accident in Florida, although she was not issued a citation or charged with any crime. An investigation is ongoing.
As previously reported, Barson’s family is suing Williams for wrongful death.
Williams won her first-round match against Elise Mertens in straight sets, 7-6, 6-4.