Navratilova blasts ITF silence over Russian’s Williams brothers slur

Frank Dalleres
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EIGHTEEN-TIME grand slam winner Martina Navratilova has criticised the International Tennis Federation (ITF) for its failure to punish the Russian official who referred to Serena and Venus as the “Williams brothers”.

Shamil Tarpischev, the president of the Russian Tennis Federation, landed a £15,000 fine and a one-year ban from the Women’s Tennis Association for the comments, but nothing from the ITF.

“The silence from the ITF has been pretty deafening. They are the ones who have actually the possibility of doing something as Tarpischev is head of the Russian Tennis Federation, which falls under the ITF and is also Fed Cup captain which falls under the ITF,” said Navratilova,

“The WTA has done all they can do. They certainly have shown they have Serena’s back and Venus’s back and he might have thought the comment was funny but it was anything but. Certainly this kind of bullying comment cannot be tolerated from anyone, but particularly from a high up official in the tennis world.”

Serena Williams, who began the defence of her WTA Finals title with a win over Ana Ivanovic yesterday in Singapore, called the slur “extremely sexist as well as racist”.

ITF president Francesco Ricci Bitti said Tarpischev had told him the remark was a joke, but that he had been told to apologise. He added: “We hope his acceptance of fault in this matter, which includes the penalty assessed by the WTA Tour, will allow all of us to move forward.”

Romanian Simona Halep comfortably beat Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard in the other match on the opening day of the WTA Finals.