Outspoken Ernests Gulbis claimed Friday that women should not play professional tennis and that they would be better served having children instead.
Gulbis, whose rollercoaster career has seen him locked up in jail and label the big four of the men’s games as boring, made his outburst after reaching the French Open fourth round when he was asked if he’d encourage his two sisters to take up the sport.
“Hopefully they will not pursue a professional tennis career,” said the 25-year-old Gulbis, the son of one of Latvia’s richest men and who once travelled to tournaments in a private Lear jet.
“I wouldn’t like my sisters to become professional tennis players. It’s a tough choice of life.
“A woman needs to enjoy life a little bit more. Needs to think about family, needs to think about kids. What kids can you think about until age of 27 if you’re playing professional tennis, you know.”
Maria Sharapova, the sport’s highest-profile women’s player, said Gulbis’s remarks should not be taken too seriously.
“I think he’s great entertainment and we love to listen to what he has to say. In a way, I think he was joking, but he’s playing the sport, so how bad can it be?
“It’s brought me so many things into my life and my career. I don’t regret any step that I have taken.”
Gulbis made his remarks just after he had reached the French Open fourth round, his first run to the last 16 of a major since he made the quarter-finals in Paris in 2008.
ATP player Ernests Gulbis needs to work harder at offending people if he wants a headline, other than this one: http://t.co/gKsdThpIkl
— Jane McManus (@janesports) May 30, 2014
The world has entirely lost plot when innocent quote from Ernests Gulbis about his sisters going into tennis becomes a mocking headline.
— Neil Harman (@NeilHarmanTimes) May 30, 2014
So funny how people are making excuses for Gulbis. Not the first time he has made sexist remarks regarding the WTA. I guess he’s special.
— jon townend (@jontownend1) May 30, 2014
Next up is a clash with Roger Federer, one of the men who felt the sharp end of his tongue at Roland Garros in 2013 when he accused the 17-time major winner as well as Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray of boring the pants off tennis fans.
“I made a lot of bad decisions career-wise,” admitted Gulbis.
“But now I am jumping on the last train. I’m 25, so this is my last opportunity to be really successful.”
The world No.17 made the last 16 by seeing off 35-year-old Czech veteran Radek Stepanek 6-3 6-2 7-5 in a fractious Court One meeting, firing 19 aces and 45 winners.
Back in the big time after six years which saw his ranking slip to 159 in 2012, Gulbis says he probably would not have acted any differently if he had his time over again.
“I don’t regret it at all, because I think in a way I’m in a better position. Maybe not as a tennis player but as a person.
“Most of the guys who are on top now, they haven’t been down a lot. They haven’t gone from playing a quarter-final in a grand slam to asking for a wildcard in a Challenger.”