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Junkies Earn Gimelstob a One-Match Suspension

(2003 AP Photo)

In addition to toying with schlubby panting sportswriters on the tennis court, Justin Gimelstob's Washington Kastles-related D.C. media tour last week included a stop in with the Junkies. With the Junkies enthusiastically egging him along, Gimelstob repeatedly let it be known that he wasn't the biggest fan of Anna Kournikova's, having spent time with her both on tour and in a youth tennis academy. Their mutual dislike, he suggested, would be manifested on July 23, when the Kastles faced Kournikova's St. Louis Aces.

"If she's not crying by the time she walks off that court, then I did not do my job," he said, among many other uncomplimentary things. Of course, he also said more than once that he did not hate Kournikova. I sort of thought Gimelstob's comments were issued in a very specific context to a quartet of hosts who knew exactly what material they were looking for; that wanting to make an opposing athlete cry is actually a fairly noble goal; and that the whole thing was generally positive for World TeamTennis, since it certainly made me want to see this Kastles-Aces match. You can listen to the June 18 clip for yourself in the archives; the audio might give a different feel than straight text.

Regardless, it became kind of a big deal, with one tennis blog asking Gimelstob to "please go die," another calling him "toxic and misogynistic" and a women's issues blog using the ever-popular "misogynist [bleep]wad."

Well, by that point, the ending was obvious; this week World TeamTennis announced that Gimelstob was being suspended without pay for one match for violating the League's Player Code of Conduct. The Kastles will have to do without him against the New York Buzz. I completely expect to see "Free Justin" posters in the stands that day.

"Justin's remarks were completely out of line with what World TeamTennis stands for," said Ilana Kloss, WTT CEO/Commissioner. "World TeamTennis was founded on respect and equality for both genders. These remarks were clearly inappropriate and inconsistent with the values of World TeamTennis. We will not tolerate this language or derogatory remarks of this nature."

"Anna Kournikova, World TeamTennis, and many others deserve my deepest apologies." Gimelstob said in the statement. "My hurtful remarks do not reflect the genuine and deep respect I have for women. I recognize that my access to communicate to the public should be used in a positive way, and this was clearly not the case last week. In addition, I have a responsibility to the numerous outlets that trust me to inform, entertain, and educate their viewers and listeners. I failed them. I am truly sorry."

And thus concludes what has to be considered the most successful media tour in Washington Kastles history. Just let me know when L7 records its Justin Gimelstob diss track.

By Dan Steinberg  |  June 26, 2008; 4:39 PM ET
Categories:  Tennis  
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