The Women's Tennis Association announced on Friday they will fine and suspend Shamil Tarpischev, the head of the Russian Tennis Federation, for making misogynistic comments about Venus and Serena Williams.
As reported by Tennisinfoblog.com, Tarpischev appeared on Russian television alongside Elena Dementieva, and when the former WTA star was asked how it was like to play against the Williams sisters, he referred to them as the "Williams Brothers."
Tarpischev's comment immediately received a lot of criticism from fans and pundits, but the WTA initially remained silent on the matter. Until now that is, according to Sports Illustrated's John Wertheim:
The WTA later confirmed he will be fined $25,000, the maximum fine under the current regulations, and the organisation will ban him from any WTA involvement for one year. Eurosport's Vladas Lasitskas shared the WTA's full statement:
The United States Tennis Association previously released a statement via its website, asking for an apology:
As the President of the USTA and a member of the Board of Directors of the International Tennis Federation, I call on Shamil Tarpischev to issue a formal apology to Venus and Serena Williams. 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. Unfortunately, his comments do not embody either of these traits and in fact were reprehensible.
Fans immediately applauded the WTA for their strong reaction to the incident:
Venus and Serena Williams have won 18 Grand Slam titles between them, dominating women's tennis for large portions of their careers since the turn of the century.
Bleacher Report's Merlisa Lawrence Corbett was shocked by the WTA's initial lack of reaction, and she rightfully pointed out Tarpischev was doing what so many have done before him: Attack the Williams sisters over their looks while ignoring their on-court achievements. She was even more disappointed with Dementieva:
Yet Dementieva sat there, in the middle of two men who reduced her profession to a beauty contest. Her silence gave the men permission to yuck it up at the expense of women's tennis and the Williams sisters.
What they were essentially saying is that being perceived as "better looking" trumps on-court achievement. How could Dementieva, an athlete, let that slide?
She's like the clueless businesswoman who grins while male coworkers denigrate female colleagues based on their looks.
The WTA did the right thing in the end, however, standing up for two of the greatest players in the history of the sport. The fine and ban are severe punishments for Tarpischev, but nothing will have more of an impact than the formal and public apology the tennis world is anxiously waiting to hear.