Serena Williams Slams “Racist,” “Sexist” Joke Against Williams Sisters

Venus Williams and Serena Williams
Venus Williams and Serena Williams were the butt of an inappropriate joke/ Graham Denholm/Getty Images

Serena Williams has little tolerance for distasteful insensitivity. 

The famed tennis player, 33, and her racket-swinging sister Venus Williams were the butt of a joke made by Russian Tennis Federation president Shamil Tarpischev earlier this month. When asked on Russia's Evening Urgant talk show about his experience with the impressive pair, Tarpischev teased that the two women are actually the "Williams brothers," as he spoke about their appearances.

"I thought [his comments] were very insensitive and extremely sexist as well as racist at the same time," Serena said this past weekend. "I thought they were in a way bullying."

The Women's Tennis Association was not fond of Tarpischev's comments either, and the group handed down a punishment of a $25,000 fine and a one-year suspension to Tarpischev. 

"I think the WTA did a great job of taking [the] initiative and taking immediate action to his comments," Serena said. "In 2014, for someone with his power, it's really unacceptable to make such bullying remarks."

Serena also found support in another tennis heavyweight, as Russian star Maria Sharapova publicly stood by her side. 

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

For his part, Tarpischev released a statement saying his joke was "taken out of humorous context" when translated into English and was "said without malice." 

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