As Venus Williams met with the media this past Monday following her 7-6 (7), 6-4 first round victory over Belgium’s Elise Mertens at Wimbledon, the five-time singles tournament champion was understandably overcome with emotions when asked to address a car crash that took place June 9 in which she was involved, resulting in the death of a 78-year-old man.
“Life, you can’t prepare for everything,” said the 37-year-old Williams. “I prepared for a lot of matches. Tried to get ready for whatever my opponent will throw at you, but you can’t prepare for everything.
She continued,“I have no idea what tomorrow will bring. That’s all I can say about it. That’s what I’ve learned.” Thursday, a wrongful death lawsuit was filed against Williams in Palm Beach County, Fla., arising after Jerome Barson died of injuries June 22 sustained in the car accident.
Williams allegedly ran a red light in her 2010 Toyota Sequoia SUV, causing, Palm Beach Gardens police say, a 2016 Hyundai Accent driven by Barson’s wife, Linda, to crash into the side of Williams’ SUV. Williams was uninjured and Linda Barson incurred moderate injuries. Williams was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol according to a police report.
Last week, Williams posted a message on her Facebook page which read, “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.”
With her younger sister, Serena Williams, last year’s Wimbledon women’s singles champion, skipping this year’s tournament because of her pregnancy, Venus entered as the 10th seed. She faced China’s Qiang Wang in a second round match yesterday (Wednesday).
Williams is in the twilight of a brilliant career. She and Serena have forged perhaps the unique and unlikely success story in the history of American athletes. Williams’ class and grace, and her fight for equal pay for women on the tennis circuit, have been perhaps more impressive than the seven major singles titles and 14 major doubles titles.
One can see her retirement coming very soon if the death of Jerome Barson continues to take a toll on her mentally and emotionally. Maybe after next year’s round of majors, as she confronts a life-altering experience.