Serena Williams is letting the press back into her life, big time. If you're unfamiliar, this is the "Serena comes out of her shell" part of the Serena dialectic, which is only a few pungent quotes from a full retreat and the "Why won't Serena let herself be loved?" stage.
The latest entry is a Rolling Stone profile, which comes on the heels of John Jeremiah Sullivan's Times Magazine cover story last August and a new documentary on Serena's tennis life with her big sis. The RS story is by Stephen Rodrick, author of the new book The Magical Stranger and this great Dennis Rodman profile that you can read at The Stacks. He visited Serena in Florida three months ago, and she gave him, well, a few pungent quotes.
Here, for instance, is Serena with an unfortunate "she wore the dress" take on Steubenville:
We watch the news for a while, and the infamous Steubenville rape case flashes on the TV—two high school football players raped a 16-year-old, while other students watched and texted details of the crime. Serena just shakes her head. "Do you think it was fair, what they got? They did something stupid, but I don't know. 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'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."
While on the phone with Venus, Serena didn't do much to conceal some bad-mouthing of a fellow WTAer:
"There are people who live, breathe and dress tennis. I mean seriously, give it a rest." Serena exits the car and the conversation moves on to a Top Five player who is now in love. "She begins every interview with 'I'm so happy. I'm so lucky'—it's so boring," says Serena in a loud voice. "She's still not going to be invited to the cool parties. And hey, if she wants to be with the guy with a black heart, go for it."
Rodrick takes an "educated guess" that it's Maria Sharapova since her boyfriend is Grigor Dimitrov, an ex of Serena's (unless, for some reason, Serena thinks that Redfoo has a black heart, which maybe we can't disagree with).
And Serena says what we long knew about her relationship with Sloane Stephens, and we hope this puts an end to it all:
I don't know where all that mentor stuff came from. I am definitely not that girl's mentor.
We'll let you know when Rolling Stone puts it online. Wimbledon begins next week.
UPDATE, 6:40 p.m.: Here's the full piece.
UPDATE, June 19, 10:43 a.m.: Serena Williams has released a statement. Here it is:
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 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 sixteen year old child.