Even Maria Sharapova, a Russian who had her share of run-ins with Serena Williams, spoke out against the comments made by the man who has been her team captain in Federation Cup competition.
"I think they were very disrespectful and uncalled for, and I'm glad that many people have stood up, including the WTA," she said. "It was very inappropriate, especially in his position and all the responsibilities that he has not just in sport, but being part of the Olympic committee. It was just really irresponsible on his side."
Part of the reason Tarpiscehv's comments stood out is because of how the WTA has led the way for women in many other sports. Indeed, thanks to Billie Jean King and her allies who pioneered the modern tour, women's professional tennis went from a fledgling, ad-hoc affair to a global business that offers players a pick of tournaments nearly every week of the year. At this year's U.S. Open, each singles champion took home $3 million with the potential for bonus money—a long way from when Wimbledon and the U.S. Open first began in the 19th century without a women's event at all.
But sexism—sometimes institutional—has still reared its head recently in the sport.
During Wimbledon this year, when Andy Murray hired his second female coach (the first was his mother, Judy), Australian player Marinko Matosevic said, "For me, I couldn't do it since I don't think that highly of the women's game."
At last year's Australian Open, French tennis star Jo-Wilfried Tsonga said the reason that the women's tour, with just a few exceptions, is so topsy-turvy is because, "You know, the girls, they are more unstable emotionally than us. I'm sure everybody will say it's true, even the girls. … No? No, you don't think?" He added: "But, I mean, it's just about hormones and all this stuff. We don't have all these bad things, so we are physically in a good shape every time, and you are not. That's it."
In 2012, Gilles Simon, another French tennis player, told reporters at Wimbledon that he thinks "men's tennis is ahead of women's tennis," that they "provide a more attractive show," and that they "spend twice as long on court as women do at Grand Slams." And because of all that, he intoned, nothing justifies equal prize money.
When Ernests Gulbis, a Latvian player who has reached the top 10 in the world tennis rankings, was asked earlier this year whether or not he would like any of his sisters to join him on the tour, he seemed to think he was doing them a favor by saying no.
"Hopefully they're not going to pursue a professional tennis career. Hopefully," said Gulbis. "Because for a woman, it's tough. I wouldn't like my sisters to become professional tennis players. It's tough choice of life. A woman needs to enjoy life a little bit more. Needs to think about family, needs to think about kids. What kids you can think about until age of 27 if you're playing professional tennis, you know. That's tough for a woman, I think."