Tennis: Post-crash, Venus Williams to face lawsuit

Florida police believe that five-time Wimbledon singles champion Venus Williams was at fault in the collision on June 9, but the world No. 10 has not been charged. She is due to compete at SW19 for the 20th time.
Florida police believe that five-time Wimbledon singles champion Venus Williams was at fault in the collision on June 9, but the world No. 10 has not been charged. She is due to compete at SW19 for the 20th time.PHOTO: REUTERS

Man dies two weeks after collision with star's car, legal action clouds Wimbledon buildup

NEW YORK • Venus Williams, the world's former top-ranked tennis player, is being sued by the family of a man who died 13 days after a traffic accident involving the star.

Jerome Barson, 78, a passenger in a car driven by his wife Linda, died as a result of head injuries sustained in the collision in Florida on June 9.

Williams was the driver at fault in the two-car crash, according to the initial police report on the incident released on Thursday.

Michael Steinger, representing the Barsons, said the family are trying to get police to release evidence relating to the incident.

News of the fatal wreck near Williams' home in Palm Beach Gardens surfaced in media accounts on Thursday, days before the 37-year-old athlete was planning to compete at Wimbledon, which begins in England on Monday.

An accident report filed by the investigating police officer said Williams was to blame for failing to yield the right of way to another motorist at a four-way intersection.

It said the other driver, Linda Barson, 68, had just entered the intersection on a green light when she reported seeing Williams' sport utility vehicle "cut across in front" of her and "was unable to avoid crashing into" it.

THE POLICE VIEWPOINT

The driver of (Williams' car) is at fault for violating the right of way of (the other vehicle).

INVESTIGATING OFFICER, on the circumstances of the crash.

Another motorist who saw the accident also told the police that Barson had a green light when Williams crossed in front of her.

According to the report, Williams told the police that she drove into the intersection after exiting from another street on a green light, but stopped at the median break to wait for cross-traffic to clear, then proceeded without seeing Barson.

"The driver of (Williams' car) is at fault for violating the right of way of (the other vehicle)", the investigating officer concluded.

Jerome Barson was taken to a trauma centre but died almost a fortnight later, according to the Palm Beach medical examiner.

The police report estimated Williams was travelling at about 8kmh at the time of the impact and was not distracted or suspected of any drug or alcohol use.

Williams' attorney, Malcolm Cunningham, did not directly address the accident report's finding that his client was at fault, but said the tennis star was not issued "any citations or traffic violations".

He expressed condolences to the Barson family and said he had no reason to believe the accident would affect Williams' plans to play at Wimbledon.

There was no indication in the report that she was injured.

"This is an unfortunate accident, and Venus expresses her deepest condolences to the family who lost a loved one," Cunningham said.

World No. 10 Williams is seeded 10th at Wimbledon, a tournament she has won five times. She will face Belgian Elise Mertens on Monday.

Williams reached the final of the Australian Open in January, losing to her sister Serena, but has not competed since losing in the fourth round of the French Open last month.

REUTERS, NY TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 01, 2017, with the headline 'Post-crash,Williams to face lawsuit'. Print Edition | Subscribe