Milan - Hot-headed Italian tennis star Fabio Fognini said he
would accept an Australian Open ban after being kicked out of the US Open for a
sexist tirade at a female umpire.
The 30-year-old insulted Swedish umpire Louise Engzell after
his first-round singles defeat against fellow Italian Stefano Travaglia.
Fognini, the world number 26, who is married to 2015 US Open
champion Flavia Pennetta, had already been fined $24 000 for the incident.
But he fears he could now face a ban from the first Grand
Slam of next season in Melbourne.
"Should (the Grand Slam Board) decide to ban me from
the next Australian Open, I will accept the decision, because actions have
consequences, and I need to pay for what I did," Fognini told Italian Sky
"I am aware of the severity of my mistake, I take full
responsibility for it. A decision will be made, and I'll move on, I'll turn the
page, with this stain on my shoulder that will never go away."
Fognini has a controversial history of on-court behaviour
and was handed a record fine of $27 500 at Wimbledon in 2014. But he insisted
his Flushing Meadows meltdown would be his last.
"There won't be a next time," he said.
"I know what came out of my mouth, I can't take it
back, but I know I won't do it again."
"I know this is a character fault of mine. I'm already
working with a mental trainer, and I thought that we were on the right track,
so I can't really explain this slip-up.
"I have nothing against women, I have been called
sexist, which I am not. I am a family man, I have a wife, a mother, a sister: I
have always loved women, I have always respected them, and therefore I am very
sorry for what I said."
Fognini said Pennetta, with whom he has a three-month-old
son Federico, had been very supportive.
"Flavia is sorry for the player Fabio, because she
knows how hard I work and how much I sacrifice for my career," he
continued. "But she knows I am not like that in everyday life, and that's
"When Federico grows up I'll tell him that I was
disqualified because I behaved badly on court. I wasn't a good example for
kids, for those who may see me as an idol, since I am the best-ranked Italian
player, and this hurts even more."