American Tennys Sandgren has apologised for writing on Twitter that a visit to a gay club had "left his eyes bleeding".
The 26-year-old reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open before losing to Hyeon Chung, and was left to face questions over claims he was a supporter of the controversial alt-right movement.
Sandgren accused the media of "demonising" him in a pre-prepared monologue following his 6-4 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 defeat to Chung at Melbourne Park on Wednesday, refusing to answer any more questions about his political beliefs. However, following criticism from the likes of Serena Williams, who took to Twitter to say "there is an entire group of people that deserves an apology", Sandgren used his social media account to look to draw a line under the controversy.
"In regards to the gay club tweet from 2012, I used poor and harsh words to describe a bad experience, and is not indicative of how I feel about the people in that community. To everyone I offended with that, pls accept my apology," Sandgren wrote on Thursday.
Sandgren had found his views under intense scrutiny following his sensational breakthrough at Melbourne Park.
The American, though, insisted who he followed or retweeted on Twitter did not represent who he is — but subsequently deleted all his messages on the social media platform bar one.
Directly addressing Sandgren, Williams had written on Twitter: "I don't need or want one. But there is an 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." After his singles exit, Sandgren walked into the press conference room stony- faced before reading the monologue off his phone.
Sandgren later added he would head home to Tennessee to reflect on everything that has happened this fortnight.
"I'm going to go home and enjoy time with my family, turn off my phone, just really reflect on the last two weeks, reflect where my life has gone to, where I'm at, where I am in this stage at 26, who I am as a person, who I want to continue trying to be, where I want to go in the sport, where I want to go as a man," he said.