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Olympic tennis player apologizes for yelling anti-gay slur during match

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Italian tennis player Fabio Fognini says the heat “went to his head.”

Tennis - Olympics: Day 1
Fabio Fognini says he “loves” the LGBTQ community. But how will he show it?
Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

Italian tennis player Fabio Fognini issued an apology early Thursday for repeatedly shouting a gay slur during his three-set loss to Russian Olympic Committee player Daniil Medvedev.

Fognini posted his statement on Instagram. Multiple outlets have translated his words from Italian to English.

“The heat went to my head!,” he wrote, via ESPN. “In today’s match, I used a really stupid expression towards myself. Obviously I didn’t want to offend anyone’s sensibilities. I love the LGBT community and I apologize for the nonsense that came out of me.”

The Instagram story also featured a rainbow background.

Fognini is receiving criticism for blaming his outburst on the excessive temperatures, which nearly caused Medvedev to faint. Midway through the match, the umpire asked Medvedev if he could finish playing.

“I can finish the match but I can die,” he said. “If I die, are you going to be responsible?”

Afterwards, he said he was ready to “fall down on the court,” via the Associated Press.

Fognini has a history of inappropriate outbursts. He was kicked out of the doubles tournament at the U.S. Open in 2017 for insulting the chair umpire during his first-round loss, notes the Washington Post.

Fognini also slammed his racket in frustration multiple times during his match against Medvedev.

This is the second time in four days an Olympic athlete has apologized for homophobic comments. Earlier this week, figure skater Nathan Chen said he was sorry for complaining about dealing with stereotypes as a “straight male athlete in a homosexual-dominated sport.”

(As our Jim Buzinski points out, it was an ignorant remark, considering there were only three publicly out LGBTQ men and zero women skaters at the 2018 Winter Olympics.)

Much like with Chen, or any athlete who uses anti-gay language, the question now focuses on Fognini’s relationship with the LGBTQ community going forward. He says he “loves” LGBTQ people, but clearly, yelling an anti-gay slur isn’t the way to show that.

Credit to Fognini for owning his mistake. Now we’ll see what he does to live up to his words.