(L-R) Caroline Wozniacki, Agnieszka Radwanska, Petra Kvitova, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic, Eugenie Bouchard and Simona Halep pose with the WTA Finals trophy at Gardens by the Bay in Singapore
Serena Williams posed with fellow tennis stars ahead of a glamorous preview of next week’s WTA Finals in Singapore.
Serena heads the field and on Saturday at Marina Bay was placed in the red group along with Simona Halep, Eugenie Bouchard and Ana Ivanovic as fans flocked to see women’s tennis current top stars.
French Open champion Maria Sharapova, Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova, Agnieszka Radwanska and Caroline Wozniacki make up the white group at the round-robin, end-of-season event.
But Williams goes into the tournament at the centre of a storm after Russian tennis federation president Shamil Tarpischev was fined and suspended from any involvement with the WTA for a year following derogatory comments about Serena and her sister Venus.
Tarpischev, who is also the Russian Davis and Fed Cup captain and a member of the International Olympic Committee, referred to world number one Serena and Venus as ‘the Williams brothers’ on Russian television.
Stacey Allaster, chairman and CEO of the WTA, announced Tarpischev had been fined the maximum of 25,000 US dollars (over £15,500), while the WTA is also seeking his removal from his position as chairman of the board of the Kremlin Cup for a year.
This year’s edition of the joint WTA and ATP tournament is being held in Moscow this week.
Serena Williams arrives at the draw during previews for the WTA Finals at the Marina Bay Sands Shopping centre
The WTA stars look on at the draw during previews for the WTA Finals at the Marina Bay Sands Shopping centre
Radwanska, Wozniacki, Ivanovic and Halep walk from the Marina Bay Sands hotel to the draw ceremony
Maria Sharapova arrives at the Marina Bay Sands shopping centre for the draw as fans flock to see the Russian star
Eugenie Bouchard of Canada has hair and make up done at Marina Bay Sands hotel before the draw ceremony
Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic (centre) and Eugenie Bouchard of Canada have their hair and make up done
Allaster revealed Tarpischev had written a private letter of acknowledgement but called for him to apologise both in public and personally to the Williams sisters.
Allaster said in a statement: ‘The statements made by Shamil Tarpischev on Russian television with respect to two of the greatest athletes in the history of women’s tennis are insulting, demeaning and have absolutely no place in our sport.
‘Serena Williams and Venus Williams are champions on and off the court – outstanding human beings, incredible sportswomen and amazing role models who have done so much to inspire women and girls around the world to achieve their dreams.
‘The WTA was founded on the principles of equality, opportunity and respect, and Venus and Serena embody all of these attributes.
‘Mr Tarpischev’s statement questioning their gender tarnishes our great game and two of our champions. His derogatory remarks deserve to be condemned and he will be sanctioned.
‘Mr Tarpischev’s private letter of acknowledgement is a start. However, Mr Tarpischev owes Venus and Serena Williams a personal apology, as well as other players and tennis fans everywhere, a public apology.’
Dave Haggerty, the president, chairman and CEO of the United States Tennis Association, also issued a statement calling on Tarpischev to apologise.
He said: ‘As the president of the USTA and a member of the board of directors of the International Tennis Federation, I call on Shamil Tarpischev to issue a formal apology to Venus and Serena Williams.
‘As the president of the Russian Tennis Federation and a member of the International Olympic Committee, Mr Tarpischev is expected to conduct himself with the highest degree of integrity and sportsmanship.
‘Unfortunately, his comments do not embody either of these traits and in fact were reprehensible.’
Tarpischev, who made the comments on a chat show, is reported to have claimed his words were intended as a joke.
President of the Russian Tennis Federation Shamil Tarpischev (left) walks with Russia Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev before watching the play of countrywoman Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the Kremlin Cup women’s semi-final in Moscow on Saturday
(Photos: Getty Images)