Donald Young accuses fellow US player Ryan Harrison of racism during match

Tom Lutz in New York
The Guardian
  • American tennis players faced each other at New York Open

  • Harrison says audio will clear him of any allegations of abuse

<span class="element-image__caption">Ryan Harrison says he is ‘extremely disappointed’ by the allegations made against him. </span> <span class="element-image__credit">Photograph: Nikola Krstic/Action Plus via Getty Images</span>
Ryan Harrison says he is ‘extremely disappointed’ by the allegations made against him. Photograph: Nikola Krstic/Action Plus via Getty Images

US tennis has been caught up in another unseemly incident with one of its top players accusing another of racism during a match.

Donald Young’s comments came after his loss to countryman Ryan Harrison at the New York Open on Monday. “I’m shocked and disappointed, Ryan Harrison, to hear you tell me how you really feel about me as a black tennis player in the middle of our NY match,” wrote Young on Twitter. “I thought this was supposed to be an inclusive gentleman’s sport.”

Harrison responded shortly afterwards with a tweet of his own, denying Young’s allegations. “The accusations made by Donald Young tonight following our match are absolutely untrue,” he wrote. “I’m extremely disappointed that someone would say this in reaction to a lost tennis match. Any video/audio will 100% clear me and I encourage anyone with the available resources to find it.”

The two players clashed during a changeover during Harrison’s 6-3, 7-6 victory, during which they approached each other and were told to return to their seats by the chair umpire with Young shaking his head. At the end of the match, Young appeared to refuse to shake Harrison’s hand.

“If that happened on a football field, everyone would laugh and say ‘15-yard penalty’ and move on,” said Harrison after the match. “You move forward and try to take it in stride. At the end of the day, you see everybody, you like everybody and you want to be friends and friendly with everybody, but everybody out here I compete against, even the ones I like, they are the ones trying to take away my livelihood. I have to do what I can to get through, and I was proud of myself for doing that.”

The ATP says it is reviewing the incident. “The ATP takes any allegations of racial prejudice extremely seriously,” said in a statement. “A further review of all video and audio recording from the match will take place as this matter is investigated further.”

The incident comes a month after US player Tennys Sandgren deleted the vast majority of his tweets after he was questioned why he followed a collection of far-right figures on Twitter. That led to Serena Williams addressing Sandgren directly on Twitter. “I don’t need or want [an apology],” she wrote. “But there is a entire group of people that deserves an apology. I cant 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.”

Although Williams did not specify which group Sandgren should apologise to, screenshots attributed to the 26-year-old showed him making derogatory comments about black people and Muslims. He also said a visit to a gay nightclub had left his eyes “bleeding”.

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