Heated exchange, racism accusation between US tennis stars
American tennis upstart and world No. 43 Ryan Harrison was accused of racial discrimination by fellow American Donald Young after a New York Open match Monday night.
Harrison, the tournament’s No. 6 seed, won in straight sets 6-3, 7-5 in the inaugural event at Nassau Coliseum, but not without controversy. Young took to Twitter to address the racial abuse claims.
“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,” Young said in a tweet. “I thought this was supposed to be an inclusive gentleman’s sport.”
While there’s no clear audio or video footage that backs Young’s claims, one video surfaced of the pair engaged in an argument at 5-4 in the first set. Harrison and Young met each other behind the umpire’s chair before they had to be separated back to their chairs.
“The accusations made by Donald Young tonight following our match are absolutely untrue,” Harrison tweeted 30 minutes after Young’s tweet. “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.”
Speaking to reporters after the match, Harrison explained away the strife as simply competitiveness.
“We both started at a very young age on Tour, and we’ve had pressure and expectations on ourselves for a long time,” Harrison said. “I’ve been very fortunate to have fought through a lot of the adversity. Donald is trying to fight through the adversity, trying to break back into where he wants to be.
“If that happened on a football field, everyone would laugh and say, ’15-yard penalty’ and move on. 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.”
Sports Illustrated’s Jon Wertheim reported that the Association of Tennis Professionals is investigating the situation.
Harrison, 25, is the tournament’s defending champion, when it was branded as the Memphis Open last year. He will face Ivo Karlovic in the second round Wednesday.