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ESPN Drops Reporter Over Venus Williams 'Gorilla' Remark

Broadcaster Doug Adler says he “inadvertently chose the wrong word to describe her play.”
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 20:  Venus Williams of the United States plays a forehand in her third round match against Ying-Ying Duan of China on day five of the 2017 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 20, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Jack Thomas/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 20: Venus Williams of the United States plays a forehand in her third round match against Ying-Ying Duan of China on day five of the 2017 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 20, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Jack Thomas/Getty Images)
Venus Williams, pictured Friday during her third-round victory at the Australian Open, was the subject of controversial commentary earlier in the tournament.
Venus Williams, pictured Friday during her third-round victory at the Australian Open, was the subject of controversial commentary earlier in the tournament.

Regardless of whether he said “gorilla” or “guerrilla” to describe Venus Williams, a commentator for ESPN has been sidelined.

On Thursday the sports network removed tennis commentator Doug Adler from its Australian Open coverage after he made a controversial remark to explain Williams’ play, The Associated Press reported.

During Williams’ second-round victory over Stefanie Voegele, Adler noted that Williams attacked more strongly against Voegele’s second serve. The word he used to reinforce his point became the subject of hot debate.

Here’s the clip:

Offended viewers and some media outlets heard it as the racially charged “gorilla effect.” But Adler said he meant the similar-sounding “guerrilla”― as in the battle tactic ― and “simply and inadvertently chose the wrong word to describe her play,” the Chicago Tribune reported.

ESPN told AP in a statement:

“During an Australian Open stream on ESPN3, Doug Adler should have been more careful in his word selection. He apologized and we have removed him from his remaining assignments.”

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