Wednesday 20 September 2017

Commentator sacked over Venus Williams 'gorilla' comments to sue ESPN as he claims he said 'guerrilla'

Venus Williams
Venus Williams

Jack de Menezes

A commentator who was sacked after making controversial comments about tennis player Venus Williams during the Australian Open is planning to sue American broadcaster ESPN.

Former player Doug Adler was suspended and later sacked by ESPN when he appeared to call five-time Grand Slam winner Williams a “gorilla”. Adler rejects the claim, and says that he was liking the American to playing “like a guerrilla”.

Adler was suspended by the broadcasters after facing allegations of racism from viewers, but ESPN later decided to sack him. The American commentator apologised to Williams, but insisted that he said "Venus moved in and put the guerrilla effect on."

Adler’s lawyer claims that the term “guerrilla tennis” is commonly used in the sport, and cited the advert that featured both Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras which coined the term.

Adler, a former tennis professional who played between 1979 and 1981, made the controversial remarks during Williams’s second round Australian Open victory over Stefanie Voegele. He started working with ESPN in 2008 and worked on their tennis coverage until the start of this year.

He claims that he suffered “emotional distress” after being accused of racism, and plans to sue ESPN for wrongful dismissal.

An ESPN spokesman confirmed that they are yet to receive any contact from Adler about legal action.

A statement said: "We have not been served and are declining further comment."

Independent News Service

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