ESPN drop commentator over Venus 'gorilla' remark

MELBOURNE, Australia - US broadcaster ESPN has dropped commentator Doug Adler after he compared Venus Williams to a "gorilla" at the Australian Open - although he insisted the word he used was "guerrilla".

ESPN said Adler should have been more careful during his coverage of the 7-time Grand Slam-winner's win over Stefanie Voegele.

"During an Australian Open stream on ESPN3, Doug Adler should have been more careful in his word selection," an ESPN statement said.

"He apologized and we have removed him from his remaining assignments."

During the second-round match on Wednesday, Adler, a 59-year-old former player, said: "She (Voegele) misses a first serve and Venus is all over her.

"You see Venus move in and put the gorilla effect on. Charging."

Viewers were quick to register their distaste on social media, while tennis journalist Ben Rothenberg called it "appalling stuff".

"Horrifying that the Williams sisters remained subjected to it still in 2017," he tweeted.

A report on the ESPN website said: "Because the words gorilla and guerrilla are pronounced similarly, it's impossible to say for certain which word Adler spoke."

Venus eclipses Duan to advance

Venus Williams ended Chinese hopes at the Australian Open on Friday, January 20 swatting aside Duan Yingying to make the fourth round of the season's opening Grand Slam for a 10th time.

The 13th seed was in a different league, spanking Duan 6-1, 6-0 on Margaret Court Arena and showing no signs of the elbow injury that forced her out of the doubles with sister Serena.

She will next play either Australian hope Ashleigh Barty, who has returned to tennis after a temporary career switch to cricket, or German qualifier Mona Barthel.

"She can really hit the ball and I'm lucky to have more experience out there today," said Williams, after spending less than 60 minutes on court.”