Wednesday, July 9, 2008
USTA drops commercials featuring Gimelstob
Former tennis pro Justin Gimelstob's sexist comments on a radio show have gotten him in trouble again.
Television commercials featuring Gimelstob promoting the U.S. Open Series are being scrapped by the U.S. Tennis Association because of what he said about Anna Kournikova and other women last month.
"Justin Gimelstob's recent comments on a Washington, D.C., radio program were derogatory and demeaning to female tennis players and to women in general. The USTA has long championed integrity, inclusiveness, diversity and equality and cannot ignore such harmful remarks. More than any other sport, tennis has benefited from the pioneering role and achievements of so many women," the USTA said in a statement released to The Associated Press on Wednesday.
"As a result of his remarks, the USTA is discontinuing its planned use of Justin Gimelstob in the 2008 Olympus U.S. Open Series television ad campaign. The USTA has met with Justin, who has expressed deep remorse and has issued his sincere apology. We anticipate that he will learn from this experience and that he will be able to contribute to the game of tennis in the future," the statement said.
In the radio appearance, Gimelstob used a derogatory term to describe Kournikova, a former tennis player, and made suggestive comments about current top-25 player Nicole Vaidisova.
"I respect the USTA's decision," Gimelstob said in a telephone interview with the AP on Wednesday. "They've been great to me over the years, and I appreciated the opportunity. Unfortunately, I take full responsibility for what happened on the show and I deeply regret it. And I'm sorry I didn't represent them or myself the way that I feel like I could have or should have. I'm apologetic and remorseful and wish I could take it back, but I can't."
Gimelstob retired from the men's tennis tour last year and is on the board of the ATP.
After his radio remarks, he was suspended for one match without pay by World TeamTennis but stayed on the air during Wimbledon for his job with the Tennis Channel. That channel issued a statement and apology on its Web site and requested that Gimelstob make a "substantial" donation to the Women's Sports Foundation, which was created by Billie Jean King in 1974.
"I made a mistake and I've apologized. I just hope people accept my apology. I believe that I have positive things to offer the sport and I hope I get back to the point of contributing," he said Wednesday. "I think what I did deserved repercussions, and that's what I'm experiencing now. I have to take responsibility for it and learn from it and move forward."
Gimelstob was to appear Wednesday night in a World TeamTennis match for the Washington Kastles at the New York Buzz in Albany, N.Y.
He will serve his suspension Friday, when the Kastles host the Buzz.