Venus Williams temporarily left her interview with the press following her first-round win over Elise Mertens after a journalist asked her to discuss a June car accident that led to a man's death.
"I am completely speechless, and it's just...yeah, I mean, I'm just..." Williams, in tears, told reporters before her voice trailed off.
Williams, 37, then briefly left the podium with the moderator before returning to answer questions. Journalists were informed she would not answer any questions about the crash. Williams opened her 20th Wimbledon Championship with a 7-6 (7), 6-4 win over the unseeded Mertens.
A Palm Beach Gardens police report released last week said Williams was at fault in a June 9 accident that killed 78-year-old Jerome Barson. Witnesses told police that Williams ran a red light and crashed into the vehicle being driven by Barson's wife, Linda. Jerome Barson died two weeks after the crash, while Linda suffered moderate injuries.
Williams was unhurt, and the police report said she was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
"Mrs. Barson is suffering intense grief and doesn't know how she will go on," said Michael Steinger, Linda Barson's attorney, per Jill Martin and Chloe Melas of CNN. "Her husband of 35 years was struck by Venus Williams, who was at fault in a car accident, which ultimately resulted in Mr. Barson being hospitalized 14 days with multiple surgeries which resulted in his death."
Malcolm Cunningham, Williams' attorney, also issued a statement to Martin and Melas: "Ms. Williams entered the intersection on a green light. The police report estimates that Ms. Williams was traveling at 5 mph when Mrs. Barson crashed into her. Authorities did not issue Ms. Williams with any citations or traffic violations. This is an unfortunate accident and Venus expresses her deepest condolences to the family who lost a loved one."
The Barson family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Williams.