While discussing her first-round victory at Wimbledon, tennis star Venus Williams broke down when asked about a car crash she was involved in June 9 that claimed the life of a passenger in another vehicle.
Reporters at the London tournament asked Williams on Monday about her emotions this past month and how she was coping, and for the first few minutes she kept her answers focused on her game.
“This is my 20th Wimbledon,” she said. “I’m grateful to be here and to play. I love the game.”
But as reporters pressed about the collision last month, in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, Williams said that in “life, you can’t prepare for everything … I have no idea what tomorrow will bring.” She faces a lawsuit from the family of Jerome Barson, 78, who died from injuries sustained in the crash.
“[Williams] is at fault for violating the right of way of [the other driver],” reads the Palm Beach Gardens police collision report, obtained by ABC News. It adds that Jerome Barson’s wife, Linda Barson, was driving the vehicle that ran into the side of Williams’ SUV. He was taken to a local hospital and died from his injuries two weeks later.
Williams told reporters Monday, “There are really no words to describe, like, how devastating and — yeah, I’m completely speechless,” as she appeared to be holding back tears in the tournament’s media room. “Maybe I should go,” she said, crying, before a tournament representative told her it was OK to leave. She returned later and answered a few more questions.
The lawsuit, filed by the Barsons’ daughter, alleges wrongful death action, and the family is seeking damages in excess of $15,000, according to a copy of the lawsuit obtained by ABC News.
After the collision and Barson’s death, Malcolm Cunningham, an attorney for Williams, noted in a statement to ABC News that authorities did not issue her any citations and that “Venus expresses her deepest condolences to the family who lost a loved one.”
Police are still investigating the crash.