Margaret Eby
October 20, 2014 12:20 pm

Tennis legend Serena Williams is a she-ro in her own right, as a role model for women in tennis and as a kick-ass athlete. And as her reaction to some downright grotesque remarks from a Russian tennis official prove, she’s not afraid to speak up for herself—and her sister—when someone crosses the line.

On a talk show last week, Russian Tennis Federation President Shamil Tarpischev made some truly offensive remarks about Serena and her sister Venus. He referred to the pair as the “Williams brothers” and noted, “It’s frightening when you look at them.”

No surprise that the Women’s Tennis Association was not a fan of that kind of gross sexism. They fined him $25,000 and suspended him for a year. They also released a statement slamming Tarpichev’s remarks.

“The statements made by Shamil Tarpischev on Russian television with respect to two of the greatest athletes in the history of women’s tennis are insulting, demeaning, and have absolutely no place in our sport,” WTA CEO Stacey Allaster fired back.

But the most powerful statement came from Serena herself, who perfectly explained just how offensive those comments were. “I thought they were very insensitive and extremely sexist as well as racist at the same time,” Williams said, speaking to the BBC. “I thought they were, in a way, bullying. I just wasn’t very happy with his comments. I think a lot of people weren’t happy as well.”

That’s putting it mildly. Tarpischev’s comments outraged fans all over the Internet and highlighted the entitlement and ignorance that some people in positions of authority still possess. Serena’s comments reminded the world that such behavior will not be tolerated, no matter who you are.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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