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“With her weight, Serena now moves much less quickly”: tournament director pays hefty statements in cash

Traditionally, the Masters 1,000 tournament in Madrid collects the absolute tennis top. But who won’t be there this year in the Spanish capital is Serena Williams. It is not long guessing why: the American (39) is in serious conflict with the Romanian Ion Tiriac (82), tournament director of the Madrid Open

The question is whether Roland Garros will continue from May 17 and not be moved to later in the year, as in 2020. The top players are already planning their preparation for the clay season and an important appointment is the prestigious tournament in Madrid. For now, the entire top 40 among women has already pledged, except for one name. After all, the 23-time grand slam champion has not forgotten what Ion Tiriac, Romanian millionaire and tennis guru, said about her earlier this year. That she is too heavy, not in shape and too old to compete for the prizes at the highest level.

“At her age and with her weight, she moves anything but the way she did fifteen years ago,” Tirac said in no uncertain terms in January. “Serena was a great player. If she has a little bit of self-esteem, she’ll stop now. ” Statements that have been condemned worldwide, not least by Serena’s husband, Alexis Ohanian. In a reply to an earlier tweet, he said that “no one cares what Tiriac thinks,” then admits in another that he had to google the Romanian. “Turns out that my 3-year-old daughter has more grand slam victories than he”, it said, followed by a third copy. “2021 and I will no longer hold back when a racist / sexist clown is openly lashing out at my family.”

Serena at the recent Australian Open, where she went out in the semi-final against later winner Naomi Osaka.
Serena at the recent Australian Open, where she went out in the semi-final against later winner Naomi Osaka. © BELGA

To which Alexendru Tiriac, Ion’s son, defended his dad in an open letter on Twitter and in turn lashed out at Ohanian. “I read your tweet with disbelief and disgust. The name Tiriac has a 70-year tradition in the sports world and the name you refer to has contributed to some important chapters in the great tennis book over the decades. From player to coach (Tiriac is still today the mentor of the Romanian top tennis star Simona Halep, ed.), To manager and tournament director: the man you blame was and still is one of the greatest advocates of the sport at the age of 82. And the respect he has for Mrs. Williams is enormous. As it should be. ”ADVERTISING

In 2013, Serena won the Madrid Open and was thrown into the air by the ball boys.
In 2013, Serena won the Madrid Open and was thrown into the air by the ball boys. © REUTERS

But Serena does send her cat to the Madrid Open. Tiriac will not immediately care. For the money it is no longer possible for him. Last year he was the third richest Romanian with an estimated wealth of 1.23 billion euros. In 2018, Tiriac already claimed that tennis needs new personalities, after which he also brought up Serena’s weight. “With all due respect, Serena is 36 and weighs 90 kilograms,” he told a German newspaper at the time. Then Serena herself responded to the statements. “Everyone can have their opinion. (…) But he is ignorant and his statements are sexist, ”she said at the time.

Ion Tiriac in 2017.
Ion Tiriac in 2017. © Photo News

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