The five-time champion eased through her first-round clash against young Belgian Elise Mertens on No.1 Court, but found questions about her recent involvement in a fatal car crash a far tougher proposition.
Williams gave a series of vague responses when asked about her emotional state following the incident in Florida on June 9, where a 78-year-old man died.
The man’s family have filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the 37-year-old, saying his death was the result of her negligence – and the enormity of the incident was clearly playing on the mind of the usually loquacious American.
“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,” said Williams, when asked about how she was dealing with the fallout from the crash.
But when quizzed about her Facebook posting, where the former world No.1 detailed her sense of devastation over the man’s death, Williams struggled to speak.
“There are really no words to describe, like, how devastating and – yeah. I’m completely speechless,” she said before tearing up.
Venus Williams emotional at #Wimbledon after being asked after car accident — heavy situation pic.twitter.com/LSdkvumiw0
— Brandon Radcliffe (@BrandonWhatsill) July 3, 2017
Williams then looked away in an attempt to compose herself, leaving the room silent for almost two minutes, before she was escorted away by an All England Club official.
The incident overshadowed Williams’ 20th appearance in the first round in SW19.
The Australian Open runner-up will face China’s Qiang Wang on Wednesday for a place in the third round.
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