Serena Williams 'Sad' Some Athletes Are Skipping Rio Due to Zika | NBC Chicago
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Serena Williams 'Sad' Some Athletes Are Skipping Rio Due to Zika

Williams told USA Today that she thinks it's "sad" that some athletes are choosing to stay home

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    AP
    Serena Williams returns the ball during a match at the Italian Open tennis tournament in Rome on Thursday, May 12, 2016. Williams has said she will compete in the summer Olympics in Rio despite fears over the Zika virus.

    Tennis star Serena Williams said she will be attending the Olympics in Rio despite concerns about the spread of Zika and is "sad" some have pulled out because of the virus.

    "[That’s] something that's been on my mind," Williams told USA Today over the weekend. "I'm really just gonna have to go super protected maybe. I don't know."

    Last month, 150 doctors, scientists and bioethicists from more than a dozen countries wrote a letter urging the World Health Organization to put pressure on Olympic officials to move or postpone the games because of global health concerns over the Zika virus.

    The letter's authors wrote that Rio's public health system is too weak to make a serious push to rid the city of the mosquito that transmits the virus.

    Since the letter was sent, several athletes have announced they will be skipping the Rio games over Zika fears, including golfers Rory McIlroy and Vijay Singh and cyclist Tejay van Garderen. Other athelets have pulled out, citing injuries, need for rest and other reasons. 

    Williams told USA Today it's "sad" that some athletes are choosing to stay home.

    "At the same time I obviously understand where they're coming from and how they feel," she said. "Part of me feels that way, too, which is why I'm going in, you know, with a whole mindset of how do I protect myself, how do I prevent and also raise awareness for this. That's kind of how I'm looking at it."

    Zika, though primarily transferred through mosquitoes, can be sexually transmitted. The virus has been found to cause serious cognitive defects in newborn babies when contracted during pregnancy. It has also been linked to neurological disorders in adults.

    This will be William's fourth time competing in the Olympics. She will be defending her champion title in both singles and doubles. Williams also won doubles gold with her sister Venus in 2000 and 2008.