Venus Williams breaks down in Wimbledon news conference

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Venus Williams breaks down in Wimbledon news conference


It would be fair to say that the run-up to Venus Williams’ Wimbledon has been turbulent. In fact, were you being tactless, you might say it was something of a car crash.

 As the tournament began , the world No 11 was, according to reports on the website TMZ, facing a lawsuit alleging wrongful death. On June 9, Williams was involved in a motor accident in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, in which a 78-year-old man, Jerome Barson, later died.

The lawsuit was reportedly filed by Barson’s daughter Audrey Gassner-Dunayer, whose mother, Lisa, was driving when the collision occurred last month. She suffered a cracked sternum, broken arm, wrist, hand and fingers, while Barson’s main arteries were severed and spine fractured – injuries from which he died after two weeks in intensive care.

Williams was, physically, unharmed.

The police report claims that she was responsible. The traffic had slowed to a crawl and, according to the report, Lisa Barson was driving through the intersection when Williams allegedly cut across in front of her. Williams has said that the light was green when she entered the junction and that she was stranded waiting for traffic to clear when the crash happened. The police have confirmed that neither party was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Nor was Williams distracted by an electronic device.

Venus Williams

On Friday, two days before the start of Wimbledon, she posted a statement on Facebook. “I am devasted [sic] and heartbroken by this accident. My heartfelt condolences go out to the family and friends of Jerome Barson and I continue to keep them in my thoughts and prayers.

” Asked on Monday whether she had anything to add, Williams said: “There are no words to describe how devastated…” before her voice cracked. “I am completely speechless,” she added as her eyes, hidden in shadow under her visor, filled. The room sat in uncomfortable silence as tears rolled down her face. Eventually, too emotional to continue, Williams fled the room.

 This could be a decisive Wimbledon for Williams. She is now 37, the same age at which even the age-defying Martina Navratilova retired from playing singles. She last won a grand slam title in 2008, here in SW19. Her Australian Open final against Serena, 35, in January was her first runner-up trophy in eight years.
Now, she returns to Wimbledon, where she won five of her seven grand slam titles, without her sibling. Serena is seven months pregnant – and not even she could play through that one.

 Prize money in Grand Slams Yet, before the emotional press conference, Williams’ first-round match against Belgian Elise Mertens became a masterclass in her renowned determination. The former champion chased down every point and never lost focus, winning 7-6, 6-4. She even seemed reluctant to leave the court when play was temporarily suspended because of rain.

 BBC commentator and former tennis player Andrew Castle was unsurprised by her breakdown. “When you are around Venus, she’s really in touch with her emotions,” he said. “One on one, she is utterly charming, when she’s not playing the media game.

 “That someone has lost their life in an incident associated with her will have hit her hard.” The absence of Serena, he thinks, could be a blessing in disguise: “maybe it’s better for her to deal with it alone. Whatever is going on in life, she just needs to get back to basics, and back on court. It’s medicinal. No one can get at you on court. It’s the only way to get away from it all.

” If Venus can pour her energy into her game, as she did on Court No 1 on Monday, she could go on a winning run. That would be the best medicine of all.

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