Wimbledon 2017: Venus Williams cries about crash in which man died

Venus Williams breaks down in news conference

Former Wimbledon champion Venus Williams broke down in tears as she was questioned by reporters about a Florida car crash in which a man died.

Williams, 37, could face a wrongful death lawsuit from the family of the man, after she was accused by police of being at fault for the collision.

She spoke after beating Elise Mertens in the first round at Wimbledon.

On the crash, Williams said: "There are no words to describe how devastating [it is]. I'm completely speechless."

She then began crying, and left the room to compose herself before returning to answer another couple of questions on the match.

The collision, which happened on 9 June, caused the death of Jerome Barson, 78.

Earlier in the news conference, Williams said: "Tennis is still the love of my life. It gives me joy.

"Life, you can't prepare for everything. 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.

"I have no idea what tomorrow will bring. That's all I can say about it. That's what I've learned."

Williams, a five-time singles champion at Wimbledon, needed five set points before taking the first set against 21-year-old Mertens.

A rain delay on Court One then halted the progress of the American 10th seed after Mertens saved two match points.

Mertens, playing her first Wimbledon, held and saved a further two match points before Williams produced an emphatic shot to secure a 7-6 (9-7) 6-4 victory.

Williams, making her 20th appearance at Wimbledon, opted against playing in a grass-court warm-up event after her fourth-round defeat at the French Open.

She easily beat Mertens 6-3 6-1 in the third round at Roland Garros, but they were evenly matched in an entertaining first set before the Wimbledon debutant sliced a backhand into the net to settle the tie-break.

The American took control with three straight games to lead 4-2 in the second set, keeping her composure after Mertens' late resistance and the rain break to set up a second-round tie against Wang Qiang of China, who beat Chang Kai-chen of Taiwan 6-3 6-4.


BBC Radio 5 live tennis correspondent Russell Fuller:

There are plenty of journalists here who perhaps are following it as a news story but there's an impact on this event because she is a contender. She's 37, she's a five-time champion, a finalist at the Australian Open.

I think everybody clearly is aware that she's been through a very difficult experience over the last few weeks and wondering how easy would it be to concentrate on something as trivial as tennis while that is all going on in the background.

I think it is another of the great unknowns as to what Wimbledon holds for her. She is playing terrifically well but whether she ever faces police charges or not, there's a civil lawsuit pending and she knows, whether she was remotely at fault at all, that she has been in a car accident that has resulted in a death of another person.

You can only imagine that this is a desperately difficult thing for anybody involved with the incident.

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