In a popular Russian late-night TV show called Evening Urgant, although a bit led on by the host, President of the Russian Tennis Federation Shamil Tarpischev ridiculed the strong physique of Serena and Venus Williams, while Elena Dementieva kept her composure and stayed away from the offensive comments.
Host Ivan Urgant asked “How it feels to play against one of the… hmmm…?” and Tarpischev continued his sentence saying “Williams brothers”. The host proceeded: “Look at our athletes, elegant and beautiful. I have tremendous respect for them [Williams sisters], but once one of the sisters passed next to me, and I found myself in her shadow for about forty seconds. They are so physicially powerful. Weren’t you afraid to play against them?” The retired tennis star Dementieva, looking as lovely as ever, coasted through the unpleasant conversation.
You can watch the full interview here. The controversial part starts somewhere at the eighth minute. I’d like to thank Russian Tennis Info Blog for translating this part of the conversation for us.
On a different note, not resting much after Linz, our photographer Jimmie48 has just arrived in Luxembourg, so make sure to check us back tomorrow for action and ambiance shots from the 250,000 BGL BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open where Andrea Petkovic is top seed.
UPDATE: Whether or not this is a classic case of cultural clash situation, as some people suggest, in which Tarpischev’s comments made at a humorous show were simply blown out of proportion when translated into foreign language and culture, Serena Williams was greatly offended by the coach’s “extremely sexist, racist and bullying” words, the WTA fined him $25,000 and suspended him for a year and Russian Maria Sharapova said: “I think they were very disrespectful and uncalled for, and I’m glad that many people have stood up, including the WTA.”