clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Serena Williams responds to insult from Russian tennis president

Everyone is offended by the inappropriate comments made by the president of the Russian Tennis Federation. Serena Williams has responded to those comments.

Chris Hyde

Serena Williams responded to the insulting comments made by Russian Tennis Federation President Shamil Tarpischev and supported his yearlong suspension by the Women's Tennis Association.

Tarpischev referred to Serena and her sister Venus as the "Williams brothers" while appearing on a Russian late-night television show called Evening Urgant, and stated that it is "frightening when you look at them." The response originated after the host asked former WTA player Elena Dementieva what it was like playing against the Williams sisters, according to ESPN.

No one laughed at Tarpischev's interjection, despite his later assertion that it was a joke.

The WTA certainly didn't find it amusing and suspended Tarpischev for a full-year in addition to fining him $25,000.

Serena was also not pleased with the comments, calling them insensitive, sexist and racist, via the BBC:

"I thought they were very insensitive and extremely sexist as well as racist at the same time," said Williams.

"I thought they were, in a way, bullying. I just wasn't very happy with his comments. I think a lot of people weren't happy as well."

Stacy Allaster, the WTA's chief executive, called the comments insensitive and demeaning, via the BBC:

"Mr Tarpischev's statements questioning their genders tarnish our great game and two of our champions.

"His derogatory remarks deserve to be condemned and he will be sanctioned."

Tarpischev stated that he didn't mean to offend anyone and didn't understand why this became such a big deal:

"I didn't want to offend any athlete with my words. I regret that this joke has garnered so much attention. I don't think this incident deserves so much fuss."


Shamil Tarpischev, Photo credit: Julian Finney / Getty Images

Dave Haggerty, the head of the USTA, thinks he should just apologize:

"As the president of the Russian Tennis Federation and a member of the International Olympic Committee, Mr Tarpischev is expected to conduct himself with the highest degree of integrity and sportsmanship," Haggerty said.

"Unfortunately, his comments do not embody either of these traits and in fact were reprehensible."