22 Oct 2014

Navratilova critical of ITF

11:42 am on 22 October 2014

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova has criticised the "silence" of the International Tennis Federation after comments from one of its members about the Williams sisters.

Russian Tennis Federation president Shamil Tarpischev described world number one Serena Williams and older sister Venus as "brothers".

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Women's Tennis Association banned him for a year and fined him $30,000 but Navratilova wanted ITF action.

Navratilova says the silence from the ITF has been pretty deafening.

She says they are the ones who actually have the possibility of doing something as Tarpischev is head of the Russian Tennis Federation, which falls under the ITF and is also Fed Cup captain which falls under the ITF.

Navratilova, one of the game's greats with a total of 59 grand slam singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles, praised the speedy action by the WTA to defend Serena and former world number one Venus, winner of seven grand slam singles title, but was critical of the ITF.

Venus Williams

Venus Williams Photo: PHOTOSPORT

She says certainly this kind of bullying comment cannot be tolerated from anyone, but particularly from a high up official in the tennis world.

Tarpischev, also an International Olympic Committee member, offered an apology at the weekend at the behest of the WTA, whose chief executive Stacy Allaster said the comments were "insulting, demeaning and have absolutely no place on our sport".

Serena Williams, winner of 18 grand slam singles titles, was clearly hurt when she labelled the comments by Tarpischev as "very insensitive and extremely sexist as well as racist" prior to the defence of the season-ending title.

Serena Williams embraces the trophy.

Serena Williams embraces the trophy. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Meanwhile Serena Williams shook off the rust and a feisty challenge from Serbia's Ana Ivanovic to open the defence of her WTA Finals tennis title with a 6-4 6-4 victory in the opening match of the elite eight-player tournament in Singapore.