Olympic tennis star has unacceptable excuse for yelling homophobic slurs in men’s tournament

Italian athlete Fabio Fognini has apologised for repeatedly yelling a homophobic slur after a defeat on the Olympics men’s singles tennis tournament.

Fognini used the homophobic slur repeatedly after a three-set loss to Russian Olympic Committee player Daniil Medvedev on Wednesday (28 July). The Italian player slammed his racket against the court after the loss and eventually threw it into a court-side rubbish bin.

A day later, Fognini apologised for his vile behaviour in a rainbow-themed post on his Instagram Stories. He said he “used a really stupid expression toward myself” and added the hot conditions in Tokyo “affected” his “head”.

“Obviously, I didn’t want to offend anyone’s feelings,” Fognini wrote. “I love the LGBT community, and I apologise for the nonsense that I let out.”

Italian tennis player Fabio Fognini apologises on his Instagram Stories for using a homophobic slur during the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. (Instagram/@fabiofogna)

According to NPR, the heat has been a legitimate issue for the Olympics tennis tournaments. Spanish player Paula Badosa got heatstroke during a match in Tokyo on Wednesday, and she had to leave the tennis court in a wheelchair.

During his match against Fognini, Medvedev reportedly struggled to breathe, and he told the chair umpire that he could “finish the match” but might “die”.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) announced that tennis matches in the Tokyo games will start later in the day beginning on Thursday (29 July). The announcement on Twitter said this decision was “due to the increasing heat and humidity” and was “in the interest of player health and welfare”.

In the interests of player health and welfare and following extensive consultation, Tokyo 2020 Olympic Tennis Event matches will begin at 3pm JST from Thursday 29 July#Tokyo2020 #tennis pic.twitter.com/skqh9ALRIV

— ITF Media (@ITFMedia) July 28, 2021

This isn’t the first time Fabio Fognini has been called out for his remarks

The Italian top male tennis player was kicked out of the doubles tournament for shouting obscenities at a female umpire after he was defeated at the US Open in 2017. According to the Guardian, Swedish umpire Louise Engzelle reported that Fognini called her “troia” and “bocchinara” in Italian – which translates as “w***e” and “c********r” in English.

Fognini received three fines – totalling $24,000 together – from the ITF for his behaviour at the tournament. Sky Sports reported that he was also handed a suspended ban of two Grand Slam tournaments.