SERENA Williams has labelled Shamil Tarpischev as â€œextremely sexistâ€ and â€œracistâ€ after the Russian Tennis Federation president described the world No1 and her sister Venus as the â€œWilliams brothersâ€.
Tarpischev was suspended for 12 months and fined Â£15,500 by the Womenâ€™s Tennis Association (WTA) after making the comments on Russian state TV. Williams, who was speaking at a press conference before the beginning of the WTA Finals in Singapore, admitted she was unhappy and accused Tarpischev of making â€œbullying remarksâ€.
â€œI thought they were very insensitive and extremely sexist as well as racist at the same time,â€ Williams said. â€œI thought they were in a way bullying. Iâ€™ve done the best that I can do, and thatâ€™s all I can say. So I just wasnâ€™t very happy with his comments. I think a lot of people werenâ€™t happy as well â€¦ but the WTA and the USTA did a wonderful job of making sure that in this day and age, 2014, for someone with his power, itâ€™s really unacceptable to make such bullying remarks.â€
Tarpishchev, who is also an IOC member, had earlier apologised but claimed that his comment was taken out of context and the incident was blown out of proportion.
â€œI did not want to cause any offence or make fun of any of the sportsmen,â€ Tarpischev said. â€œI am sorry that the joke I made, when translated into English, was taken out of the context of a chat show and so much attention has been brought towards it.
â€œI donâ€™t think that the incident needed to be blown out of proportion. Everything that was said on the TV show was said without meaning to cause offence.â€
The United States Tennis Association described the comments as â€œreprehensibleâ€, and this yearâ€™s French Open champion, Maria Sharapova, also condemned Tarpischevâ€™s derogatory remarks.
â€œI think they were very disrespectful and uncalled for, and Iâ€™m glad that many people have stood up, including the WTA,â€ Sharapova said. â€œIt was very inappropriate, especially in his position and all the responsibilities that he has not just in sport, but being part of the Olympic committee. It was just really irresponsible on his side.â€
Williams faces Ana Ivanovic in the opening round in Singapore on Mondayafternoon having endured a mixed season. She pulled out of the China Open before her quarter-final due to an injury to the left knee, which is still troubling her, was eliminated in the third round at Wimbledon then withdrew from the Wuhan Open due to illness.
However, the 33-year-old won her third consecutive US Open in September and will be looking to complete a hat-trick of WTA Finals titles this week. – The Guardian