World number one Serena Williams slammed Shamil Tarpishchev for using “extremely sexist, racist and bullying” comments after the Russian Tennis Federation (RTF) president described her and sister Venus as the “Williams brothers”.
The WTA took swift action and fined Tarpishchev $25,000 and disqualified him from working in an organisational capacity for a year on Saturday after he made the comments on Russian State Television.
I thought they were very insensitive and extremely sexist as well as racist at the same time
Tarpishchev, who is also an International Olympic Committee member, made an official apology later on Saturday after a WTA demand to do so but that was not enough for a clearly unhappy Williams.
“I thought they were very insensitive and extremely sexist as well as racist at the same time. I thought they were in a way bullying,” Williams told reporters in Singapore on Sunday.
“I’ve done the best that I can do, and that’s all I can say. So I just wasn’t very happy with his comments. I think a lot of people weren’t happy as well. But the WTA and the USTA (United States Tennis Association) did a wonderful job of making sure that – in this day of age, 2014 for someone with his power, it’s really unacceptable to make such bullying remarks.”
WTA chief executive Stacy Allaster said the comments were “insulting, demeaning and have absolutely no place on our sport”.
Serena, 33, is the current world number one and has won 18 grand slam singles titles. She has also teamed up with her elder sister Venus to win 13 grand slams and three Olympic gold medals in doubles.
Venus, 34, is a former world number one, who has also won seven grand slam singles titles.