Russian tennis chief Shamil Tarpischev thought he had jokes when he referred to tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams as the “Williams brothers” last week on a late night Russian television talk show, CNN reports.
In response, the Women’s Tennis Association banned Tarpischev for a year and fined him $25,000 for making the comment. He also delivered a public apology.
But Serena, an 18-time grand slam champion who has endured derogatory remarks about her looks and athletic skills since the inception of her historic career, had some things to say Sunday, on the eve of the WTA Tour Finals in Singapore:
“I think the WTA did a great job of taking initiative and taking immediate action to his comments. I thought they were very insensitive and extremely sexist as well as racist at the same time,” she said.
I thought they were in a way bullying.
“But the WTA and the USTA (U.S. 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.“
The attack comes as Serena, who recently won the U.S. Open last month, is in the midst of an effort to win a third straight title. On Monday, she faces former No. 1 ranking Ana Ivanovic.
Tarpischev is reportedly the chairman of the annual event in the Russian capital Moscow, and after his remarks about the Williams sisters, the WTA is demanding he step down.