World number one Serena Williams has hit back after Russian Tennis Federation President Shamil Tarpischev referred to her and her sister, Venus, as the 'Williams Brothers'.
The Russian made the comments in a local television chat show, and has since been suspended for 12 months as well as being fined a sum of £15,500 by the WTA following the incident.
Williams was hurt and outraged by the comments made by Tarpischev, labelling the Russian as 'sexist', 'racist' and a 'bully'.
“I thought they were very insensitive and extremely sexist as well as racist at the same time,” Williams said. “I thought they were in a way bullying."
"I’ve done the best that I can do, and that’s all I can say. So I just wasn’t very happy with his comments. I think a lot of people weren’t happy as well.
"The WTA and the USTA did a wonderful job of making sure that in this day and age, 2014, for someone with his power, it’s really unacceptable to make such bullying remarks.”
Tarpischev has accepted his punishment, but has defended his comments, claiming they have been 'blown out of proportion' and that he didn't mean to 'cause offence'.
Out of context
"I did not want to cause any offence or make fun of any of the sportsmen,” Tarpischev said. “I 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.
“I don’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.”
World number 2 Maria Sharapova has supported her colleague, labelling the comments made by Tarpischev - who is also on the International Olympic Commitee (IOC) - as 'irresponsible'.
“I think they were very disrespectful and uncalled for, and I’m glad that many people have stood up, including the WTA,” Sharapova added.
“It 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.”
The IOC are now looking into the comments made by Tarpischev, and are seeking an explanation for them.
Williams suffered her greatest defeat in 16 years on Tuesday evening, a 6-0 6-2 defeat at the hands of Simona Halep, but the American has her chance to bounce back from the defeat as she takes on Canada's Eugenie Bouchard in Singapore tonight.
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