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Posted: October 20, 2014

Russian tennis official fined for calling Serena, Venus 'Williams brothers'

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            Russian tennis official fined for calling Serena, Venus 'Williams brothers'
Serena Williams of the United States plays a shot to Victoria Azarenka of Belarus during a semifinals match at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships at Wimbledon, England, Thursday, July 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

By Sebastian Martinez

The Women's Tennis Association has come down hard on the Russian Tennis Federation official who made derogatory comments about the Williams sisters a few weeks ago. 

Appearing on a Russian late-night talk show, Russian Tennis Federation President Shamil Tarpischev called the sisters the "Williams brothers" and said the two were frightening to look at. (Video via Вечерний Ургант)

The WTA fined Tarpischev $25,000 and suspended him for a year after news of the interview trickled through to the United States. (Video via Pravda)

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Tarpischev issued a sort of apology for his "joke" through the Russian Tennis Federation, in which he says, "I understand now that my remarks were wrong and could be construed as discriminatory by the public."

Williams hailed the punishment in a press conference

SERENA WILLIAMS VIA THE GUARDIAN: "Well, I think the WTA did a really great job of taking initiative and immediately taking action to his comments. I thought his comments were very insensitive."

ESPN columnist Melissa Isaacson said Tarpischev's comments echo a common thread when it comes to criticizing female athletes that "the more talented they are, the greater the odds that male hormones are involved."

But the fact that Tarpischev is a high-ranking tennis official might help explain his swift punishment. 

HOWARD BRYANT, ESPN: "This was different, I think, because of Tarpischev's position. He's not a peer; he's not a former player. ... It was just a cheap shot, and I think it showed that the cheap shot wasn't going to be tolerated."

The WTA is also looking to remove Tarpischev from his post as chairman of the Kremlin Cup, which he has held for close to two decades. 

The ban keeps Tarpischev from being involved in any and all WTA events for the next year. 

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