Serena Williams said in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine that, while not blaming the victim in the Steubenville rape case, "she shouldn't have put herself in that position."
The comment, which sparked an outcry on social media Tuesday, is made in one paragraph of a lengthy story posted online Tuesday about Williams, a 16-time Grand Slam title winner who is ranked No. 1 heading into Wimbledon, which starts next week.
Two players from the celebrated Steubenville, Ohio, high school football team were convicted in March of raping a drunken 16-year-old girl; one of the boys was ordered to serve an additional year for photographing the girl naked. The case gained widespread attention in part because of the callousness with which other students used social media to gossip about it.
According to the Rolling Stone story, Williams says the perpetrators of the crime "did something stupid," and she asks: "Do you think it was fair, what they got?"
She adds, "I'm not blaming the girl, but if you're a 16-year-old and you're drunk like that, your parents should teach you: Don't take drinks from other people."
And Williams also is quoted as saying: "... she shouldn't have put herself in that position, unless they slipped her something, then that's different."
Williams is in England preparing for Wimbledon.
USA Today reported that the tennis star's comments drew scrutiny on social media websites Tuesday. Her agent did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday night.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.