(CNN)WWE vice president Triple H has apologized for a "terrible joke" about one of his top female stars, in which he questioned whether former wrestler Paige knew how many children she had.
The 27-year-old - real name Saraya-Jade Bevis - who retired from the ring due to injury in 2018 but is still a prominent personality on WWE shows, was the subject of intense online attention and abuse after intimate videos and pictures of her were leaked in 2017.
She revealed in a podcast interview with former WWE ring announcer Lillian Garcia that she had contemplated suicide and suffered anorexia as a result of the leak.
Ex-WWE champion Triple H, real name Paul Levesque, made the careless quip about Paige during a media scrum when he was asked whether she or fellow superstar Edge would ever return to the ring.
"I'm a fan just like everyone else. I would love to see [Edge or Paige] step into the ring and compete," he said.
"More importantly than that, though, I would like to see them live long, healthy lives. You know, Edge has kids. Paige, maybe, she probably has some she doesn't know of."
'I made a terrible joke'
The comments, which were met by laughter from those in the room, sparked outrage from within the industry with many top wrestlers condemning Triple H's answer.
Twin wrestlers Nikki and Brie Bella were among the critics and tweeted their solidarity with Paige, questioning the leadership at WWE.
"We will never see the true change in equality if we just see them as story lines. Change in a company starts from the top. Our leaders help set the example," they wrote.
"For us women we need all the help we can get. Help with respect from our co-workers and fans. We are all one. One love."
Levesque tweeted an apology to Paige on Wednesday and said he had been in contact with the former star since his comments were shared online.
"I made a terrible joke and I'm sorry if it offended her or anyone else," he wrote.
'I was a little bit perplexed'
Paige, who also tweeted about the incident, later confirmed she had been in contact with the executive vice president but said she had been surprised by his initial comments.
"Obviously, I was a little bit perplexed and a little taken back because he's someone that I truly look up to. He's always been very respectful," she told Sportskeeda.
"I think he got caught up in a joke and I just don't think it was appropriate to joke about. It's just something I'm not going to continually talk about.
"I feel like people on the Internet have done a pretty good job at it. He's definitely reached out and we're gonna be talking about some things."