Superstar tennis player Serena Williams is angry over a comment by an International Olympic Committee member that referred to her and sister Venus as the “Williams brothers.”
Venus and Serena (right) Williams of the U.S. discuss strategy while playing Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina of Russia during their 2014 U.S. Open Women's Doubles Quarterfinals match on Sept. 2, 2014 in New York. (Image source: AFP/Timothy A. Clary/Getty Images)
The dig came courtesy of Shamil Tarpishchev, president of the Russian Tennis Federation, on Russian state TV Friday, The Wrap reported.
Russian Tennis Federation President Shamil Tarpischev (Image source: AP/Pavel Golovkin)
A host interviewing Tarpishchev commented that “I was at the Olympics where Maria Sharapova was in the final, playing with one, with one of the…”
Tarpishchev completed the host's sentence with the words, “Williams brothers.”
"It's frightening when you look at them," he reportedly continued, according to ESPN. "But really you just need to play against the ball."
“I thought they were very insensitive and extremely sexist as well as racist at the same time,” Williams said at a news conference Sunday in Singapore. "I thought they were in a way bullying."
In response Tarpishchev was fined $25,000 and suspended for a year by the Women's Tennis Association, the Wrap noted, citing The Guardian.
WTA chief executive Stacy Allaster said Tarpishchev's comments were “insulting, demeaning and have absolutely no place on our sport.”
Sharapova also took aim at Tarpishchev's comments: “I think they were very disrespectful and uncalled for..."
When asked on Saturday if he regretted his comments, Tarpischev told The Associated Press that the TV program he was on was "a humorous show" then added, "I don't answer stupid questions," ESPN reported.
Asked to comment on his ban, Tarpischev said, "I can't comment. I don't understand it," ESPN added.
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In a statement released later Saturday by the Russian Tennis Federation, Tarpischev denied any "malicious intent" and said his quotes had been taken out of context.
"I didn't want to offend any athlete with my words," he said. "I regret that this joke ... has garnered so much attention. I don't think this incident deserves so much fuss."