An American tennis player has been fined $10,000 for using his racket to mimic shooting a rifle at a referee in a gesture he said was intended to be “playful.”
Doubles tennis star Mike Bryan and his twin brother Bob had just successfully challenged a poor call by a line judge during a match at the U.S. Open in New York.
“The duo had been trailing by a set and had just challenged a lob that had been called in by the line judge — in favor of their opponents, Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain and Federico Delbonis of Argentina,” the New York Post reports. “A replay review showed that the ball had in fact landed out, and Bryan chose to express his frustration with his racket.”
Bryan could then be seen pointing at the judges and aiming his racket at them like a rifle and mimicking a shooting posture.
— doublefault28 (@doublefault28) September 1, 2019
Bryan was quickly hit with a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct, which he contested on the court.
“Just tell me what I did real quick? What was the gesture?” he asked.
Chair umpire Mariana Alves responded, “The gesture that you did. You did it to the line umpire and did it to me. You did with your racket like it was a gun. I don’t think that was appropriate.”
The U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) later fined Bryan $10,000 for the gesture, which has been called “insensitive” and “poorly timed” by critics and mainstream media, in the wake of recent mass shootings, one of which had taken place hours earlier in Texas.
“We thought it warranted that amount,” said USTA spokesman Brendan McIntyre.
Bryan has since apologized profusely for the move, saying, “We won the point and the gesture was meant to be playful. But given the recent news and political climate I understand how my gesture could be viewed as insensitive. I promise that I will never do anything like this again.”
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