After he was fired from ESPN for reportedly referring to Venus Williams as a "gorilla," tennis announcer Doug Adler is suing the station for wrongful termination (video below).
It all started in January, when Adler was calling one of Williams' matches at the Australian Open, when he said that Williams was charging forward with what he now describes as "the guerrilla effect," reports Tennis.com.
However, many listeners believed that he was comparing the African-American tennis player to a "gorilla" and called for Adler's removal. Adler apologized for his choice of words but said that he would never have used the racist homonym to describe Williams.
"When I commentate on tennis, I'm only commentating as to tactics and strategy," explained Adler, according to TMZ. "I really could care less who's playing -- man, woman, child, doesn't matter. So I'm always talking in terms of tactics required to win, and ... you could play moving in for the kill, taking no prisoners, guerrilla effect. You don't want to say the same thing over and over and over, so you use descriptive adjectives to describe how a player at this level what they need to do to win."
The lawsuit argues that, because of a widely-viewed 1990s Nike TV commercial featuring Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras, called "Guerrilla Tennis," the term is used frequently in the sport, notes Tennis.com.
"Obviously, [Adler] saw that commercial many times and the phrase became widely used by those who actually understood tennis vernacular and followed the sport closely," the lawsuit said.
Adler, who was fired in the middle of the tournament for his words, said that ESPN was aware of the expression. He is suing for financial damages related to "emotional distress," since he can no longer find a job after being labeled a racist.
"I believe [ESPN] fully understood what I meant," Adler said, according to TMZ. "My boss there understood what I meant, and I think I was just thrown to the wolves because they didn't want to take the time and the energy to back me. Basically, I'm not a huge name in the business, I'm not like a John McEnroe, someone like that. I think they felt I was expendable, and the word that I got was that there was too much opposition coming from the other side, and they'd rather not fight it. So they let me go."