Gimelstob says he's sorry for remarks about Kournikova

Updated: June 27, 2008, 8:15 PM ET
Associated Press

WIMBLEDON, England -- Justin Gimelstob's disparaging comments about Anna Kournikova have created a stir at Wimbledon, where World Team Tennis teammate Serena Williams denounced the remarks as unprofessional.

Gimelstob retired from the men's tour last year and is on the board of the ATP, which runs men's tennis. He made sexual remarks about Kournikova and other female players on a Washington radio program "The Junkies" last week, before heading to Wimbledon.

The comments were widely published in Britain on Friday, after Gimelstob was suspended one match without pay by WTT for a violation of the player conduct code.

Gimelstob called Kournikova the "b-word" and made sexually-charged remarks about her and his brother. Gimelstob apologized on the WTT Web site Wednesday, the day of his suspension.

Serena Williams, who is on the Washington Kastles team with Gimelstob, said the comments were "totally uncalled for."

"Being pro women's rights, I just think we've come farther than to be referred to ... you know, I don't cuss," she said Friday, during her post-match news conference. "Anna is a great girl. For anyone to say that about her is kind of ... what can I say? It's not professional."

Gimelstob also made a suggestive comment about Czech player Nicole Vaidisova during the program. Vaidisova downplayed the remarks.

"I know Justin. He's a very nice guy. I heard he apologized for it," Vaidisova said. "I think it's just you say something and you don't really mean it. It happens."

In his apology, Gimelstob said there was "no excuse" for his comments.

"I am extremely disappointed in myself," Gimelstob said in the statement. "I take full responsibility for all the words that came out of my mouth ... Anna Kournikova, World Team Tennis and many others deserve my deepest apologies.

"I recognize that my access to communicate to the public should be used in a positive way, and this was clearly not the case last week."

Billie Jean King, the co-founder of WTT, met with Gimelstob and was "confident both he and WTT will move beyond this unfortunate incident," she said in a statement on the WTT Web site.

Gimelstob, a commentator at Wimbledon for Tennis Channel, writes a regular column for Sports Illustrated's Web site.

Kournikova made the Wimbledon semifinals in her debut in 1997. She never won a singles title, but won two Australian Open doubles titles.

Kournikova had little to say about Gimelstob's remarks.

"I really don't want to get into any of the off-court stuff," she said Thursday during a conference call previewing the WTT season. "I'm just going to take the high road and not get into this discussion.

"WTT is not about those sorts of things, it's about keeping it fun and positive. ... I don't want to give it any more significance than it has already received."

The ATP did not sanction Gimelstob.

"The ATP cannot condone any form of intolerance and Justin Gimelstob's comments last week were unacceptable," the ATP said. "However, Justin has done the right thing in taking full responsibility for his comments by apologizing publicly to Anna for what he has rightly described as his disappointing and disrespectful comments."

The women's WTA Tour welcomed Gimelstob's suspension.

"We're disappointed at Justin's remarks, which are inappropriate and contrary to what our sport should stand for," the WTA said. "We believe that he has learned from this experience and will not be repeating his behavior."


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press