ESPN Drops Doug Adler Over Venus Williams ‘Gorilla’ Comment
ESPN has dropped announcer Doug Adler from its Australian Open coverage after he compared Venus Williams to a gorilla on-air at the tennis championships. The tennis commentator made the questionable remark during Venus’ 6-3, 6-2 victory over Switzerland’s Stefanie Veögele at the Australian Open on Wednesday, January 18.
“She [Veögele] misses a serve and Venus is all over her,” Adler told viewers, as he was describing the pressure Venus was putting on her Swiss opponent in their second-round match. “You see Venus move in and put the gorilla effect on. Charging.”
Following the ensuing backlash on social media, the 59-year-old former tennis pro apologized the next day. However, Adler claims the word he actually used was “guerrilla,” as in warfare tactics, and said he “simply and inadvertently chose the wrong word to describe her play.” According to the Associated Press, it’s impossible to say for sure which word was used because gorilla and guerrilla are homophones.
New York Times tennis writer Ben Rothenberg called Adler’s poor choice of words “some appalling stuff.” “Horrifying that the Williams sisters remain subjected to it still in 2017,” he tweeted.
ESPN later released a statement saying that they had pulled Adler from his “remaining assignments” in Melbourne. “During an Australian Open stream on ESPN3, should have been more careful in his word selection,” the sports network said. “He apologized and we have removed him from his remaining assignments.”
Always a class act, the seven-time Grand Slam winner took the high road when pressed about Adler’s remark during a press conference on Friday, January 20. “It’s been a wonderful, wonderful career for me, full of positives,” Williams, 36, told reporters, flashing a smile. “That’s what I focus on. I mean, what else can I do? It’s a beautiful life. That’s how I feel about every single thing. It’s just that simple, honestly.”