A tearful Venus Williams walked out of her press conference on Monday after her first-round victory at Wimbledon, the American’s first match since her involvement in a fatal car accident in Florida that police allege she caused.
The No10 seed deflected a series of queries about the wrongful-death lawsuit filed on Thursday before she became overcome with emotion, prompting the moderator to request that journalists refrained from asking about the incident.
“There are really no words to describe, like, how devastating and – yeah. I’m completely speechless. It’s just – yeah, I mean, I’m just …” a visibly shaken Williams said, her voice trailing off.
The seven-times major champion then broke down in tears, stepping out into the hallway to gather herself with members of her team.
Williams returned after about five minutes to field five more questions, mostly related to her 7-6 (7), 6-4 win against Belgium’s Elise Mertens amid wildly fluctuating weather on No1 Court, as the sun‑splashed afternoon gave way to blustery conditions and ultimately rain.
The American – at 37 the oldest woman in the draw here – was at her imperious best in the opening stages, breaking Mertens in her opening service game and dictating points with her serve. But Mertens, who was not born when Williams turned professional and only four when she won the first of her five Wimbledonsingles titles, overcame those initial nerves and began challenging Williams with powerful groundstrokes into the corners and well-concealed variety.
Mertens blinked during the first-set tiebreak, then surrendered her early service break in the second. Rain interrupted play with the 21-year-old, who had just saved her second match point with a gorgeous backhand lob, serving at 3-5, 40-40 in the second set.