American Tennys Sandgren, whose social media activity became a source of controversy at the Australian Open this week, read a lengthy — and, at times, odd — statement to reporters after his quarterfinal loss to South Korean Hyeon Chung on Wednesday.
Sandgren came under scrutiny earlier this week when he was asked in a post-match press conference Monday about links to the alt-right movement on his Twitter account, including a retweet earlier this month of an alt-right personality and past comments about a debunked conspiracy theory widely known as “Pizzagate.”
Asked Monday about some of the alt-right ties on his Twitter account, Sandgren told reporters that he “find(s) some of the content interesting” but does not ascribe to alt-right views. On Tuesday, he deleted all of his tweets since 2016.
After Wednesday’s loss, he opened his post-match press conference by reading the following statement.
“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 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.”
Sandgren, the 97th-ranked player in the world, lost in straight sets Wednesday to Chung, who will face Roger Federer in the semifinals. The 26-year-old Tennessee native was the last American remaining in the singles draw before his ouster.