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During the lead-up to this week’s Kremlin Cup in Moscow, Russian Tennis Federation President Shamil Tarpischev engaged in a regrettable dialog with a Russian television host. During the taping of a popular Russian late-night TV show called Evening Urgant, Tarpischev, who was a guest alongside of former WTA star Elena Dementieva, called Venus and Serena Williams "brothers“ much to the delight of the show’s host, Ivan Urgant.

Thanks to the, there is a tidy translation of the transcript (we’ve quoted their handiwork below):

During the interview, the host asked, “How it feels to play against one of the…hmmm…? “Williams brothers,” helped Tarpischev. Urgant continued: “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 physically powerful. Weren’t you afraid to play against them?” Dementieva didn’t seem particularly amused by the conversation.

You can watch the video above and, even if you don’t understand Russian, you can get a feel for how Tarpischev insults the Williams sisters with his ignorant, demeaning remarks and seems to be getting a good laugh out of it. This is the President of the Russian Tennis Federation on national TV. Not good at all.

Thanks to Twitter user @ULTM8SerenaWilliamsf for bringing the incident to light and for getting the attention of some important people in the tennis world:


WTA CEO Stacey Allaster has responded to Tarpischev’s comments with harsh criticism and a $25,000 fine. See her statement below: