During the Australian Open last month, ESPN3 fired Mike Adler from his job calling tennis matches over a comment he made when Venus Williams faced off against Stefanie Voegele.
Adler used the term “guerilla” when referencing a move used by Venus Williams, likening the play to a military maneuver or tactic. However, on social media people reacted angrily, believing Adler had meant to liken Williams to the animal “gorilla.”
Specifically, Adler said, “You see Venus move in and put the guerrilla effect on … charging.”
According to TMZ, Adler says the social media freak out was misguided, “Adler says Twitter freaked out and misunderstood what he was trying to say — wrongly interpreting the comment as racist. Instead, Adler says the term is NOT racist, but rather a “frequently used” word in tennis to describe an aggressive style of play. In fact, Adler says Nike ran a tennis campaign back in the ’90s called “Guerrilla Tennis.”
Adler says ESPN understood what he meant but made him apologize anyway, only to fire him a short time later. Adler says he’s screwed professionally because of the way his termination played out in the media, saying, “No one will hire a ‘racist.'”
For the record, Adler says he’s “anything but a racist.”
He’s suing for unspecified damages.
Here’s the video of the “guerilla” ad campaign Adler referenced:
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter: @themightygwinn