No. 10-seed Venus Williams advanced to the second round at Wimbledon on Monday with a 7-6(7), 6-4 win over Elise Mertens, but her post-match press conference took an emotional turn.
Williams was brought to tears after she was asked about the fatal automobile accident in which she was involved. On Friday, Williams wrote on her Facebook that she was “devastated and heartbroken” by the accident. When asked about the post, Venus started to break down.
“There are really no words to describe, like, how devastating,” Williams said. “I’m completely speechless.” The moderator stopped the conference shortly after and Venus left the room for a minute, before returning to answer a few additional questions about her match.
Williams will be facing a lawsuit from the family of the man who died after the accident earlier this month. Williams was driving her vehicle in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. on June 9, when she approached an intersection. A driver of another vehicle said that Williams sped into the intersection, a fact that Williams’ lawyer disputes. Her attorney says Williams entered the intersection on a green light that turned red during the turn and that she got stuck in the intersection because of oncoming traffic. The vehicles collided and the accident left 78-year-old Jerome Barson with head injuries. Barson died two weeks later.
Williams was going only five miles an hour when she entered the intersection and authorities say no evidence that alcohol, drugs or texting while driving were factors in the accident.
In the second round at Wimbledon, Venus will next face Qiang Wang.