Italian tennis player Fabio Fognini looked a little different when he took the court Monday for his first match since his homophobic outburst at the Olympics. The veteran player was wearing rainbow accessories to punctuate his outfit.
Fognini, who repeatedly shouted a gay slur during his three-set loss to Russian Olympic Committee player Daniil Medvedev on July 29, had a rainbow headband and two rainbow wristbands.
This time, Fognini won his match in three sets, defeating Jan Lennard-Struff at the National Bank Open in Toronto.
But unsurprisingly, his outfit has attracted more attention than his win.
Fognini issued an apology following his Olympic match, blaming his outburst on the excessive temperatures, which nearly caused Medvedev to faint.
“The heat went to my head!,” he wrote on Instagram, 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.”
Naturally, the Instagram story had a rainbow background.
Fognini is largely getting pummeled on Twitter for his attire, with many users questioning the sincerity of his outfit. Ben Rothenberg, a tennis reporter and freelance writer for the New York Times, captured the crux of the criticism being levied against Fognini: “Fascinated by what his calculations were to decide that three rainbows was the commensurate remedy,” he wrote.
Obviously, throwing on some rainbow attire doesn’t make up for using homophobic language, and yes, there is a bit of a “corporations posting rainbows during Pride Month” feel to Fognini’s getup.
But that doesn’t mean Fognini’s motives are cynical. It is possible he’s genuinely trying to show his support for the LGBTQ community. His outreach shouldn’t end with rainbow wristbands, of course. But it’s a start.
Besides, we can all agree on one thing: Everybody looks better in rainbows.