Martina Navratilova slams ITF 'silence' over Williams sisters

Serena Williams (left) and sister Venus
The Williams sisters have won 13 grand slam doubles and three Olympic doubles titles

Martina Navratilova has criticised the "silence" of the International Tennis Federation after comments from one of its members about the Williams sisters.

Russian Tennis Federation president Shamil Tarpischev described world number one Serena Williams and older sister Venus as "brothers".

The Women's Tennis Association banned him for a year and fined him £15,500 but Navratilova wants ITF action.

"The silence from the ITF has been pretty deafening," Navratilova said.

"They are the ones who actually have the possibility of doing something as Tarpischev is head of the Russian Tennis Federation, which falls under the ITF and is also Fed Cup captain which falls under the ITF.

Shamil Tarpischev
Shamil Tarpischev said his comments were a "joke"

"This kind of bullying comment cannot be tolerated from anyone, but particularly from a high-up official in the tennis world."

Tarpischev, also an International Olympic Committee member, offered an apology on Saturday at the behest of the WTA, whose chief executive Stacy Allaster said the comments were "insulting, demeaning and have absolutely no place on our sport".

Serena Williams, winner of 18 Grand Slam singles titles, has also won 13 Grand Slam doubles events with her sister and described the comments by Tarpischev as "very insensitive and extremely sexist as well as racist".

ITF president Francesco Ricci Bitti said: "Although Mr Tarpischev assured us that his comment was meant as a joke, we made it clear to him that what he said is inappropriate in any context.

"We hope that his acceptance of fault in this matter, which includes the penalty assessed by the WTA Tour, will allow all of us to move forward."