Tennis fans are calling for an American commentator to be sacked after accusing him of comparing Venus Williams to a gorilla during her second round match at the Australian Open.

ESPN's Doug Adler, a 59-year-old former pro, was describing the pressure Williams was putting on the second serve of Swiss opponent Stefanie Voegele when he offered this description: "She misses a first serve and Venus is all over her," Adler said. "You see Venus move in and put the gorilla effect on. Charging."

It prompted a wave of angry reaction on social media, including from New York Times tennis writer Ben Rothenberg. "This is some appalling stuff," Rothenberg tweeted. "Horrifying that the Williams sisters remained subjected to it still in 2017."

But others came to Adler's defence, suggesting he said "guerilla".

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Adler and ESPN are yet to comment.

Thirteenth seed Williams beat Vogele 6-3, 6-2.