Sunday 19 October 2014

Full Translation of Tarpischev's Comments about the Williams Sisters

Shamil Tarpischev, the president of the Russian tennis federation, was recently fined and suspended by the WTA for problematic comments he made on a popular Russian talk show regarding the Williams sisters' gender and appearance. Today, the WTA published an apology letter sent by Tarpischev the day before the fine was publicized.

The full content of the talk show, "Vecherniy Urgant" (Evening Urgant), is available on YouTube, and I bring here the full translation of the relevant part, in which Ivan Urgant, the show's host, talks to Tarpischev and Elena Dementieva about the Williams sisters, seemingly for no other purpose than to make fun of their physique. The translated part starts at 8:04.

Urgant: "I want to share with you my personal observation... for the first time in my life I was in a big tournament, it was the olympics - which is important - unfortunately not THAT olympics, Lena, where you became an olympic champion... It was the olympics where Masha Sharapova played with one [female] of... with one [male] of... those... "
Tarpischev: "- the Williams brothers -"
Urgant: "... the Williams brothers, because my tongue gets twisted, I can't understand how - look at ours, our [female] tennis players, how they're all slender and elegant - and then when [somebody like that] comes out... It's just that... Well, a *sister* passed by me - [laughter] - we went under the tribunes, and one of the sisters passed by me, and I have huge respect for these outstanding sportswomen, but... when she went by, I was covered in shade, and only after 40 seconds the shade disappeared, all this power... Lena, wasn't it scary to play against one of the Williams sisters?"
Dementieva: "Vanya, it was scary, but what could I do?"
Urgant [interjects]: "What could you do?"
Dementieva: "What could I do? You weren't there to help me, I was all alone by myself" [smiles]
Urgant: "I don't think I could have helped much! I don't think so... And what do you think, Shamil Anvarovich? When... when they come out, they're such incredibly physically gifted sportswomen, I understand that against other players the game is more or less on the same level, from a physical point of view, but this... what is this, they can just go like this with the racquet [mimics bending a racquet]."
Tarpischev: "It's scary, really, only when you look at them [laughs]. But Lena had to play ball - when a sportsman comes out on court, if he's focused only on the ball, he doesn't see the stands, the opponent, nobody. It's a question of performance, what you're doing with the ball, then you forget about everything. It's a question of concentration."
Urgant: "So basically, you're not paying attention to who's behind the net, only to what's flying over the net?"
Dementieva [trying to deflect]: "Shamil Anvarovich?"
Tarpischev: "Yes, only to what's flying away [laughs]"
Dementieva: "I think tennis players pay attention to everything, just like good hockey players, yeah? They need both to play and to see the blonde in the stands"
Urgant and Dementieva talk a bit more about how she paid attention to everything that happened around the court, he congratulates her on the birth of her daughter, and finally the conversation veers elsewhere (the upcoming Kremlin Cup).