WTA's Scott defends tour against 'racist' claims by Richard Williams

Updated: March 20, 2008, 11:06 PM ET
Associated press

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- WTA head Larry Scott said Thursday that he strongly disagrees with comments made by Richard Williams, father of Serena and Venus, regarding racism on the women's tour.

Saying he was disappointed by Williams' recent remarks during an interview in India, Scott said in a statement: "The Tour has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to racism, and I have previously let Mr. Williams know that he should let me know if he ever had evidence of racist comments or acts in women's professional tennis."

While his daughters were playing earlier this month in Bangladore, India, where Venus reached the quarterfinals and Serena won the title, Williams told the Deccan Herald, "Well, I'm black and I'm prejudiced, very prejudiced. People are prejudiced in tennis. I don't think Venus or Serena was ever accepted by tennis. They never will be."

He said the media treated his daughters unfairly, that it was "the worst media job that they have done on any human being in the world," and that if he were Serena and Venus, he would have quit playing.

"But if you get some little white no-good trasher in America like Tracy Austin or Chris Evert, who cannot hit the ball, they [the media] will claim this is great," he said.

Scott said, "Champions like Chris Evert and Tracy Austin have done so much to help build women's tennis to where it is today, and it is regrettable that anyone would criticize them in this manner."

The Williams sisters haven't played at Indian Wells since 2001. They were booed after Venus pulled out of a semifinal match against her sister, citing knee tendinitis. Serena went on to win the title, but was booed during and after the championship match.