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Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova Speak out against Tarpischev

On Sunday in Singapore ahead of next week’s WTA Finals, the WTA’s top two players made their first public remarks about the controversial comments made by Russian Tennis Federation President Shamil Tarpischev last week. Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova expressed solidarity with the views of the WTA’s CEO Stacey Allaster and gratitude for the many people who have stood up for the Williams sisters specifically and the WTA as a whole.

More: Tarpischev Suspended for Demeaning Remarks about Williams Sisters

"I think the WTA did a great job of taking initiative and taking immediate action to his comments," Serena Williams told reporters in Singapore, according to Courtney Nguyen of SI. "I thought [Tarpischev’s comments] were very insensitive and extremely sexist as well as racist at the same time. I thought they were, in a way, bullying."

Sharapova chimed in, too, saying "I think they were very disrespectful and uncalled for, and I'm glad that many people have stood up, including the WTA," according to Nguyen. "It was very inappropriate, especially in his position and all the responsibilities that he has not just in sport, but being part of the Olympic committee. It was just really irresponsible on his side."

In his defense, Tarpischev has released a statement through the Russian Tennis Federation, claiming that his comments were blown out of proportion.

"I didn't want to offend any athlete with my words," he said, according to the Associated Press. "I regret that this joke ... has garnered so much attention. I don't think this incident deserves so much fuss."

Martina Navratilova also added her two cents via text, in an exchange with New York Times Reporter Christopher Clarey.

“Flippant or not you cannot have an official making this kind of an offhand remark,” she said. “I think it’s disgraceful and there should be a serious sanction.”

Stacy Allaster of the WTA fined Tarpischev $25,000 and suspended him from any WTA-related activities for a year. Though disappointed in Tarpischev, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko hopes that the sanction will be reduced at some point.

"It's probably worth trying to get the punishment softened," Mutko said, according to the AP.