Tennis

I'm not a racist - Llodra

2012-03-15 09:33
Michael Llodra (File)

Indian Wells - French tennis player Michael Llodra apologised on Wednesday for directing a racial slur at a fan during a match at the ATP's Indian Wells Masters and insisted he isn't racist.

"I want to explain my position on the row and confirm above all that I am, of course, not racist," Llodra said in remarks posted on his website. "Everyone who knows me personally knows that very well.

"I want to say, 'Sorry!'"

Llodra, 31, was fined $2 500 by the ATP on Sunday, two days after his outburst during his opening match against Ernests Gulbis.

He yelled at a woman who was supporting Gulbis during his 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (7/3) win over the Latvian.

The incident was witnessed by Canadian journalist Tom Tebbutt, who wrote about it on his social networking Twitter site.

"Sat very first row -- dead centre behind the court for Llodra-Gulbis --heard a lot. Deplorable behaviour by Llodra -- read next tweet.

"ML smacked ball out of court, threw racquet, called female Gulbis supporter in crowd a ‘(bleep)ing Chinese.' I confirmed later with brother of woman."

Llodra said the outburst was due to frustration.

"Sometimes when things are not going as I planned, my irritation makes me swear, stupidly," Llodra wrote on his website. "A high-level sportsman who is a role model cannot say everything that comes into his head, even less so when it involves swearing.

"My immense frustration made me slip verbally. I really want to say sorry if I offended the Chinese community."

Tournament officials said Llodra was also verbally abusive towards the ball kids and their coordinator during the match. Besides the fine, Llodra was told to apologise.

Llodra and his doubles partner, Nenad Zimonjic, reached the finals of back-to-back tournaments in China last year, winning the doubles in Beijing and finishing as runners up in Shanghai.

Llodra withdrew from his second-round match against fellow Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the first set on Sunday because of a knee injury.

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