The ESPN commentator who compared Venus Williams to a “gorilla” or “guerilla” has apologized. he was describing her aggressive style as “guerrilla” tactics and not comparing her with a “gorilla.”
Former tennis pro Doug Adler on Thursday said he was speaking about Williams’ tactics and strategy and “simply and inadvertently chose the wrong word to describe her play.”
Adler was doing play-by-play commentary on ESPN for Williams’ match against Stefanie Voegele, saying Williams was playing more aggressively after Voegele missed serves. After Voegele faulted on a serve, Adler described Venus as moving in and charging with a “gorilla effect” or “guerrilla effect.” Because the words gorilla and guerrilla are pronounced similarly, it’s impossible to say for certain which word Adler spoke.
In a statement emailed to The Associated Press, ESPN said it had pulled Adler from the broadcasts.
“During an Australian Open stream on ESPN3, Doug Adler should have been more careful in his word selection. He apologized and we have removed him from his remaining assignments,” the statement read.
The remark sparked quick reaction on Twitter, with some offended users calling for Adler to be fired for comparing Williams, who is African-American, with a gorilla.