Australian Open

Sandgren apologises over gay club tweet

2018-01-26 08:35
Tennys Sandgren (Getty)

Melbourne - Controversial American tennis player Tennys Sandgren has apologised over a tweet about a visit to a gay club which he said left "his eyes bleeding".

The 26-year-old, a devout Christian, came under scrutiny this week during his run to the Australian Open quarter-finals over his apparent support on Twitter for far-right groups in the United States.

It led to him wiping his social media account while lashing out at the "dehumanising" media in a sermon-like statement at his post-match press conference after losing to Chung Hyeon.

He refused to take any questions on his past Twitter writings, but has been under increasing pressure to address them following criticism from the likes of Serena Williams.

She was the subject of one Sandgren post over her behaviour during a 2015 US Open match against Roberta Vinci which he called "disgusting." 

Williams said on Wednesday she did not need him to say sorry to her but that "there is a entire group of people that deserves an apology". 

She added that she could not "look at my daughter and tell her I sat back and was quiet. No! she will know how to stand up for herself and others - through my example". 

Sandgren chose to address a 2012 tweet in which he wrote: "Stumbled into a gay club last night ... my eyes are still bleeding." 

"In regards to the gay club tweet from 2012, I used poor and harsh words to describe a bad experience, and is not indicative of how I feel about the people in that community," he said late on Thursday. 

"To everyone I offended with that, pls accept my apology." 

Among his other now wiped tweets was one where he appeared to back a debunked online conspiracy in 2016 which linked Hillary Clinton to a supposed child sex abuse ring at a Washington pizzeria. 

He also retweeted a video from white nationalist Nicholas Fuentes. 

Sandgren denied in Melbourne that he supported far-right figures and said who he followed on Twitter "doesn't matter". 

In the wake of the controversy and his tennis exploits, he said before leaving for home in Tennessee that he planned to "turn off my phone". 

"This has been a lot of information to digest in the last few weeks. So I need to take ample time to do so, so I can move forward correctly," he said.

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