Doug Adler, the tennis commentator who lost his job over what many viewed as racist remarks against Venus Williams, says accusations that he is a bigot are “not true.”
“It just makes me absolutely sick,” Adler says Friday, Aug. 25 on the “Today Show” of being called a racist online. “Never been a racist. Never looked at color. Have never even thought of that term until this whole situation.
“It’s not true,” he added. “It couldn’t be further from the truth, and I don’t quite understand nor accept how something like that can happen to me.”
Adler, a former professional tennis player, was scrutinized and ultimately terminated by ESPN for the way he described Williams’ approach in playing Stefanie Voegele during the Australian Open in January.
“You see Venus move in and put the guerilla effect on,” Adler said. “Charging.”
Many thought the commentator was comparing Williams to a gorilla and Adler clarified his remarks the day after the match. He did so again on “Today.”
“Nothing to do with an animal,” he says. “Everything to do with tactics, strategy, how to win the point.”
Venus Williams Has Her Own Legal Woes to Deal with:
- Fla. Cop In New Body Cam Video Isn’t Sure Who’s to Blame for Venus Williams Crash
- Victim’s Attorney In Venus Williams’ Wrongful Death Suit Says Tennis Champ Accelerated Through Intersection After Light Changed
- Police: Venus Williams Legally Entered Intersection Before Crash, New Video Confirms Claim
Adler said the phrase, “guerilla effect,” has been used in tennis for decades and took Williams’ comment that she “[pays] attention and address situations that are noteworthy,” to indicate what he said was “nothing.”
ESPN requested the commentator to apologize on air and removed him from his remaining assignments before ultimately firing Adler. He is now suing the sports network for wrongful termination.
“They killed me,” he says. “They made me unemployable. They ended my career. They killed my reputation, my good name. What else was I supposed to do? To me, it was the easiest decision to make. I’m not going away.”
ESPN, according to “Today,” is still unsure about which word Adler used in his commentary. The network denies all allegations in the suit and in a statement said, “Adler made an inappropriate reference to Venus Williams for which he felt no apology was necessary. We disagree and stand 100 percent behind our decision to remove him from the 2017 Australian Open.”
Williams’ reps declined to give the morning news show a comment on their story.