LOS ANGELES (AP) — A tennis commentator dropped by ESPN for a remark about Venus Williams during the Australian Open sued the sports network Tuesday for wrongful termination.
Former tennis pro Doug Adler maintains he was describing Williams’ aggressive style last month as “guerrilla” tactics and not comparing her with a “gorilla.”
He apologized for his poor word choice but was let go from ESPN mid-tournament.
Adler claims “emotional distress” in the filing in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging he was wrongly branded a racist and has lost other TV opportunities because of the controversy.
The lawsuit calls for punitive financial damages, but doesn’t name an amount.
ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys said Tuesday the network hadn’t seen the lawsuit and had no comment.
The suit points out that “Guerrilla Tennis” was the name of a Nike TV ad from the 1990s featuring Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras.
“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.