By Alex Blair
Tennys Sandgren, the Australian Open star scolded for his controversial activity on Twitter, has every right to be filthy after a bittersweet week in Melbourne.
The unseeded star strongarmed his way into the quarterfinals after upsetting 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka and World No.4 Dominic Thiem, but was defeated in straight sets by Hyeon Chung on Wednesday afternoon, shortly before launching a tirade against the media in his post-match press conference.
The 26-year-old, competing in his first-ever grand slam, found himself in a storm after a host of critics took a disliking to a number of his tweets and follows.
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The knives were instantly drawn on the World No.97 after screengrabs of him declaring a "picture" of Serena Williams "disgusting" on Twitter found the media following his blockbuster rise through his debut grand slam.
New York Times reporter Ben Rothenberg shed light on the misleading screenshot, revealing Sandgren was actually referencing an article about Williams' comments in a 2015 match against Roberta Vinci.
Organisations have been updating articles after Rothenberg broke the news of the misunderstanding.
Sandgren wiped his Twitter of a number of tweets which could be deemed controversial, such as ones referencing the Hillary Clinton "Pizzagate" scandal, a conspiracy theory claiming the 2016 Presidential candidate had links to child sex trafficking.
"It's not something I'm really embarrassed about, but I just felt like creating a cleaner start is not a bad call. I thought it wouldn't be a bad way to move forward," he said.
Sandgren, a follower of a number of alt-right accounts on Twitter, was accused of being a "white supremacist" despite assuring he didn't sympathise with many of the polarising faction's views and simply found some of its commentator's content "interesting".
Regardless of whether you agree with Sandgren or not, an important point must be made about the rising star's rollercoaster week: He's not here to defend social media activity, who he follows or his political beliefs — he's here to play tennis.
We're in a tough time where it's becoming easier and easier to have your public image (and even career) destroyed simply by disagreeing politically with the wrong people — and Tennys Sandgren's case is a perfect example of hypersensitive critics making mountains out of molehills.
Before taking any questions in his post-match press conference, Sandgren — obviously thrilled at having to justify his personal beliefs minutes after losing the biggest match in his career — reeled off a statement aimed at the media:
"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," he said.
"You dehumanise with pen and paper and turn neighbour against neighbour. In so doing, you may actually find you're hastening the hell you wish to avoid, the hell we all wish to avoid." He also said he treated everyone as equals before accusing the media of "stripping away any individuality for the sake of demonising by way of the collective".
"It's my job to continue on this journey with the goal of becoming the best I can and to embody the love Christ has for me, for I answer to Him and Him alone," he said.
Fans accusing Sandgren of being a "Nazi" with very little evidence other than a handful of tweets, calling for him to be booed and wishing for his career to hit the dumps need to ask a simple question: Why so much outrage? Just enjoy the sport.
He's not a political figure, he's a tennis player, and if he said something on Twitter you don't like, so what? Move on.