Venus Williams breaks down at Wimbledon presser when asked about car accident

About an hour after defeating Elise Mertens in the first round of Wimbledon, Venus Williams faced a tragically inevitable question on the death of Jerome Barson. Her response was so human, it's hard to imagine her as a larger-than-life professional athlete. When she was asked about the car accident that killed 78-year-old Barson in early June, Williams was moved to tears and could hardly speak. The accident was due to Williams blocking traffic in a three-lane four-way intersection, when Barson and his wife, Linda, collided with her. Police have already declared Williams at fault for the accident, and Williams is now embroiled in a lawsuit by the Barson family.

It was a humbling reminder of where sports stand in the hierarchy of life. Williams is a person first and an athlete second, and seeing someone that looked invincible on the court look so vulnerable a mere hour later while sitting in front of a microphone creates a stark contrast. Police did not find any sign of recklessness on Williams's part. There were no drugs or alcohol in her system, nor was she driving impaired by a phone or other electronic device. By all appearances, it was an example of going through the wrong light a split second too late, and being in the wrong place at the long time. We will not know these details for sure until the police release the full report, but cursory initial reports indicate it to be the case.

Up to Monday, Williams remained largely mum on the incident, with her attorney issuing a statement that sent condolences to the Barson family and expressed Williams's regret as well as a heartfelt Facebook message of apology. When she was asked about the accident during her conference, it was clear why she didn't say anything sooner: She simply can't find the words.

"Yeah, I've. ... Been completely speechless ... " she said. "And it's just. ... Yeah I mean, I'm just ..." at which point Williams couldn't go on. She shook her head until the press moderator asked reporters to keep their questions tennis related, as she visibly couldn't speak on the matter. She left the conference all together shortly after.

It is unlikely that Williams's trial will be criminal, as clear recklessness must be present for a car accident to go to criminal court. Williams was, by all accounts thus far, simply in a bad spot, and the case will probably be civil. Williams's reaction shows that the accident is still weighing heavy on her mind, however, and it doesn't take a conviction for some people to feel remorse.

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