Doug Adler

What was the accusation?

During the second round of the 2017 Australian Open, ESPN TV commentator Doug Adler described tennis superstar Venus Williams’ aggressive performance on the court as “guerrilla” tactics. Listeners of Adler’s commentary heard that description as “gorilla” tactics, thus leading them to believe that Adler was crassly comparing Williams (who, along with her sister Serena, had been the subject of similarly objectionable criticism in the past) to a large, dark animal. Outrage via social media was immediate, prompting Adler to apologize on-air the next day for his misinterpreted remark, saying he “simply and inadvertently chose the wrong word to describe her [Williams’] play.” Later, in a statement to The Associate Press, ESPN announced that it had “removed him [Adler] from his remaining assignments.”

Key Apologia Strategies:

Good Intentions






Bieler, D. (2017, January 19). ESPN analyst says he did not liken Venus Williams to a ‘gorilla’ but a ‘guerrilla.’ The Washington Post. Retrieved from

ESPN tennis commentator apologizes for description of Venus Williams’ style of play. (2017, January 19). ESPN. Retrieved from

‘Gorilla’ or ‘guerrilla’? Adler apologizes for Venus Williams remark. (2017, January 19). Retrieved from