Tennys Sandgren may be out of the 2018 Australian Open, but the controversy surrounding the American is still very much alive.
Sandgren’s unheralded run in Melbourne came to an end on Wednesday, as 21-year-old Hyeon Chung defeated him in straight sets to reach the semifinals. Though Sandgren beat two top-10 players in Stan Wawrinka and Dominic Thiem en route to his best-ever showing at a Grand Slam, the Tennessee native wasn’t only making headlines for his on-court accomplishments in Melbourne.
With Sandgren’s unexpected success also came examination of his social media activity, which contained links to controversial political views and conspiracy theories.
On Wednesday, Serena Williams took to Twitter to address Sangren, saying: “I don't need or want one. But there is a entire group of people that deserves an apology. I can’t 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.”
After his win over Thiem, Sandgren denied his support for alt-right movements and subsequently deleted all of his tweets from his account, except for one retweet from 2013, in an attempt to "move forward" and create "a version of a cleaner start."
“Who you follow on Twitter, I feel, doesn’t matter even a little bit,” Sandgren said on Monday. “What information you see doesn’t dictate what you think or believe. I think it’s crazy to think that. I think it’s crazy to assume that.”
After his loss in the quarterfinals on Wednesday, Sandgren read the following statement before taking questions from the media in his post-match press conference:
“You seek to put people in these little boxes so that you can order the world in your already assumed preconceived ideas. You strip away any individuality for the sake of demonizing by way of the collective.
With a handful of follows and some likes on Twitter, my fate has been sealed in your minds. To write an edgy story, to create sensationalist coverage, there are a few lengths you wouldn't go to to mark me as the man you desperately want me to be.
You would rather perpetuate propaganda machines instead of researching information from a host of angles and perspectives while being willing to learn, change, and grow. You dehumanize with pen and paper and turn neighbor against neighbor. In so doing, you may actually find you're hastening the hell you wish to avoid, the hell we all wish to avoid.
It is my firm belief that the highest value must be placed on the virtue of each individual, regardless of gender, race, religion or sexual orientation. It's my job to continue on this journey with the goal of becoming the best me I can and to embody the love Christ has for me, for I answer to Him and Him alone.
I'll take questions about the match, if you guys don't mind. Thank you. If you have any questions about the match.”