Russian tennis official takes more heat for ‘Williams brothers’ remark

Serena, left, and Venus Williams slap hands between points during a doubles match at the 2014 U.S. Open in August.
(Seth Wenig / Associated Press)

A top Russian tennis official who mocked Serena and Venus Williams by referring to them as the “Williams brothers” now faces potential sanctions from the International Olympic Committee.

While appearing on a television talk show in his country, Shamil Tarpischev, president of the Russian tennis federation, also said that Venus and Serena Williams look “scary.”

“While my intention was to make a small joke, I realize now that what I said was inappropriate in any context,” Tarpischev wrote in an open letter posted on Friday.


Tarpischev is also an IOC member and, on Monday, the Associated Press reported that Olympic officials want him to provide a “full explanation” of his comments.

The WTA Tour has already fined him $25,000 and banned him for a year.

Serena Williams spoke out about Tarpischev this weekend.

“I think the WTA did a great job of taking initiative and taking immediate action to his comments. I thought they were very insensitive and extremely sexist as well as racist at the same time,” she said. “But 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.”