ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (AP) — Russian Tennis Federation President Shamil Tarpischev has been suspended from any involvement with the WTA Tour for a year after referring to Venus and Serena Williams as “the Williams brothers” on a Russian television talk show.
WTA Tour chairman and CEO Stacey Allaster said in a statement Friday that Tarpischev would also be fined $25,000, the maximum allowed under WTA rules, and that the tour would also seek his removal as chairman of the Kremlin Cup tournament in Moscow for a year.
Allaster said his remarks were “insulting, demeaning and have absolutely no place in our sport” and that he owed the Williams sisters an apology.
“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,” Allaster said.
Tarpischev, who is also a member of the International Olympic Committee, made the comment about the Williams sisters in a joke during an appearance on a late-night talk show with former Russian tennis star Elena Dementieva.
Dave Haggerty, the president and chairman of the U.S. Tennis Association, also called on Tarpischev to issue a formal apology to the sisters.
“Mr. Tarpischev is expected to conduct himself with the highest degree of integrity and sportsmanship,” Haggerty said in a statement. “Unfortunately, his comments do not embody either of these traits and in fact were reprehensible.”
World No. 1 Serena Williams is an 18-time Grand Slam winner in singles, while her sister Venus has seven singles major titles. Serena Williams attempted to defend her title at the WTA finals in Singapore on Wednesday. Serena lost in the round-robin match ending her 16-match winning streak, where she is the two-time defending champion.