Shamil Tarpischev, president of the Russian Tennis Federation, has been sharply criticised for his comments on a TV chat show where he referred to Grand Slam winning sisters Venus and Serena Williams as the “the Williams brothers”.
Tarpischev has been fined $25,000, the maximum possible under the Women’s Tennis Association(WTA) rules.
Speaking to the Telegraph WTA Chief Executive Stacy Allaster said the Russian’s comments were "insulting, demeaning and have absolutely no place in our sport".
"Mr Tarpischev's statements questioning their genders tarnish our great game and two of our champions,” said Allaster. “His derogatory remarks deserve to be condemned and he will be sanctioned.”
She also said that in addition to the fine he would be banned from any involvement in women’s tennis for a year.
In a statement released by the Russian Tennis Federation, Tarpischev denied any "malicious intent" and said his remarks, made on what he described as a “humourous show”, had been taken out of context.
"I didn't want to offend any athlete with my words," said Tarpischev. "I regret that this joke ... has garnered so much attention. I don't think this incident deserves so much fuss."