MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA — A TV sports commentator has denied accusations of racism after he appeared to compare tennis star Venus Williams to a gorilla.
ESPN pundit Doug Adler insisted he was describing Williams’ “guerilla” tactics during her second round victory over Stefanie Voegele at the Australian Open on Jan. 18, not comparing the 7-time Grand Slam winner to a great ape.
The 59-year-old commentator apologized and said he “simply and inadvertently” chose the wrong word to describe Williams’ play, the New York Post reported.
However, that didn’t stop an outpouring of outrage on Twitter. New York Times tennis writer Ben Rothenberg said Adler’s comments were horrifying and there was no shortage of others who were offended too.
ESPN said in a statement that it had dropped Adler from his remaining assignments, adding that he should have been more careful with his word selection.