Venus Williams Breaks Down Discussing Fatal Car Crash After Wimbledon Victory

Posted on: July 4, 2017, 09:40h. 

Last updated on: July 4, 2017, 09:43h.

The usually stoic Venus Williams displayed a rare burst of emotion on Monday at Wimbledon, while talking about a car crash in which she was recently found to be at fault that resulted in the death of a Florida man.

Venus Williams in tears at Wimbledon
Besieged by the press at Wimbledon on Monday, Venus Williams broke down in tears after trying to answer a question about the fatal car crash she was involved in on June 9. (Image:

In her first live remarks about the June 9 automobile accident that involved her and an elderly couple in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, Williams expressed her pain over the crash, which resulted in the death of 78-year-old Jerome Barson.

The tennis star addressed the tragedy after her first-round victory over Elise Mertens 7-6 (7), 6-4 on Monday at the All England Club. It was a subject she would have preferred to avoid, but with a persistent press politely peppering her, she relented.

“There are really no words to describe, like, how devastating and — yeah, I’m completely speechless,” she said. “It’s just — yeah, I mean, I’m just.…”

With her head lowered and fighting back tears, she left the room to compose herself, returning minutes later to finish the interview. She then answered only questions about her match.

Facing Lawsuit

The Palm Beach Gardens Police Department has determined that Williams was responsible for the collision, though they have not submitted a final report. They did mention she was not apparently under the influence of drugs or alcohol, nor was she found to be distracted by a cell phone.

Barson’s family has filed a wrongful death civil lawsuit and are seeking an undisclosed sum. The brief claims Barson’s wife is suffering grief and mental pain due to Williams’ actions. They have requested a jury trial.

They also assert Williams ran a red light and that Linda Barson was unable to stop and collided into her. Multiple witnesses apparently have backed up that account and police put in their report that she had caused the accident by “violating the right of way.” Malcolm Cunningham, the lawyer for the 37-year-old in this case, maintains the light was green when his client entered the intersection.

Focusing on Tennis

There was a moment of doubt that Williams would even play at Wimbledon because of the fallout from the incident. However, officials of the Grand Slam event confirmed she had entered.

The odds for Williams have moved slightly since the accident. She was a 12-1 pick to win her sixth Wimbledon title before play began. Before Monday’s match it had jumped anywhere from 14-1 to 17-1.

Oddsmakers didn’t believe the controversy would affect her performance against Mertens, who she defeated the last month in straight sets at another marquee event, the French Open. She was a 5-9 favorite in that match and is a 2-7 pick over her next opponent, Qiang Wang of China. The two will play on Wednesday.

Williams is seeded 10th in the tournament and is a 4-1 selection to make the quarterfinals and semifinals. She is an 11-2 pick to reach the finals.