Russian Tennis Federation head Shamil Tarpischev was unrepentant about the comments he made about the Williams sisters, saying they were only meant as jokes and that he doesn't understand why he was banned for a year by the WTA Tour.

Tarpischev was fined $25,000 and suspended from tour involvement for a year after referring to Serena and Venus Williams as "brothers'' on a Russian TV show and called them "scary'' to look at.

Asked whether he regretted his comments, Tarpischev told The Associated Press at the Kremlin Cup that the programme on which he spoke was "a humorous show'', adding: "I don't answer stupid questions.''

In a statement released later by the Russian Tennis Federation, Tarpischev denied any "malicious intent'' and said his quotes had been taken out of context.

"I didn't want to offend any athlete with my words,'' he said. "I regret that this joke ... has garnered so much attention. I don't think this incident deserves so much fuss.''

The Williams sisters are "outstanding athletes'' who "personify strength and perseverance'', he added.

The WTA said it would seek his removal as chairman of the Kremlin Cup tournament, which ends Sunday.

Source: Agencies