Venus driving 'lawfully' before crash

MIAMI • New evidence shows Venus Williams was driving "lawfully" when she was involved in a deadly car crash that sparked a lawsuit against the tennis star, police in Florida said on Friday.

An initial police report on the June 9 crash in Palm Beach Gardens described the seven-time Grand Slam singles champion as being "at fault" in the incident.

On Friday, Palm Beach Gardens police issued a statement saying new video obtained of the collision showed that "the vehicle driven by Venus Williams lawfully entered the intersection on a circular green traffic signal, and attempted to travel north through the intersection to BallenIsles Drive".

She was forced to halt in the intersection when a south-bound vehicle turned in front of her, police said.

Once that car passed, Williams, 37, began to proceed through the intersection, also in accordance with traffic laws.

By that time, however, the light had changed and a vehicle driven by Linda Barson, travelling west on an intersecting street, collided with Williams' car.

Barson's husband, 78-year-old Jerome Barson, died on June 22 of injuries suffered in the crash.

Barson's family subsequently filed a lawsuit against Williams in Palm Beach County claiming she "negligently operated" her vehicle.

She has not been cited for any violation, and police said on Friday their investigation continues.

Michael Steinger, a lawyer for the Barsons, said the video confirmed that Williams blocked his clients' right of way.

"The video released by the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department (PBGPD) continues to support the fact that Ms Williams remained in the intersection at a red light, violating the Barsons' right of way," he said.

American Williams - the 10th seed at Wimbledon - is set to face Croatia's Ana Konjuh, 19, in the women's singles last 16 tomorrow.

Earlier in the week at the All England Club, the five-time Wimbledon champion and former world No. 1 broke down in tears during a press conference when asked about the crash.

Lawyers for both sides were in court on Friday in Palm Beach Gardens, where Williams' attorney wanted a judge to set guidelines on how both parties could inspect the cars involved and retrieve data from on-board computers.

Williams' lawyer had obtained an emergency court order preventing the Barson family from unilaterally inspecting the vehicles.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 09, 2017, with the headline 'Venus driving 'lawfully' before crash'. Print Edition | Subscribe