October 19, 2014

Russian Tennis Official Banned for Questioning Venus & Serena's Gender (He Looks Like Donald Sterling)

Shamil Tarpischev says he was just joking when he made his comments on Russian TV.

The president of the Russian Tennis Federation has been banned from the women's tour for a year and fined $25,000 for calling Venus and Serena Williams "the Williams brothers."

Shamil Tarpischev made the comments on a Russian television chat show earlier this month.

He was sitting alongside retired Russian tennis player Elena Dementieva who was asked by the host, Ivan Urgant, what it was like to "play against one of the ..."

Before he finished his sentence, Tarpischev interrupted to say the "Williams brothers."

Urgant went on to say: "I have tremendous respect for them (the Williams) but once one of the sisters passed next to me and I found myself in her shadow for about 40 seconds."

The Russian tennis boss said the sisters were "scary" to look at.

His remarks have been condemned by the WTA as "insulting" and "demeaning" against "two of the greatest athletes in the history of woman's tennis."

"Mr. Tarpischev's statements questioning their genders tarnish our great game and two of our champions," WTA Tour chairman and CEO Stacey Allaster said in a statement Friday. "His derogatory remarks deserve to be condemned and he will be sanctioned."

The WTA also demanded a personal apology to the sisters.

Tarpischev, who is also a member of the International Olympic Committee, said Saturday his comments about the Williams sisters were only meant as jokes.

He told The Associated Press that his comments came as he spoke on "a humorous show." Tarpischev later denied any "malicious intent" in a statement released by the Russian Tennis Federation.

"I regret that this joke ... has garnered so much attention," Tarpischev, who was the personal tennis coach to Russian president Boris Yeltsin, said in his statement. "I don't think this incident deserves so much fuss."