Italian professional tennis star Fabio Fognini has responded for the first time since he was handed a hefty fine and suspension for his derogatory remarks towards the female official during the first round men’s singles match at the US Open.
The incident happened last week when Fognini began his campaign on court 11 against Stefano Travaglia at Flushing Meadows.
At one point of time during the tie, the 30-year-old was heard hurling abusive language to umpire Louise Engzelle, calling her in Italian, ‘troia’ and ‘bocchinara’ – meaning ‘w**re’ and ‘c**ks**ker.’
He lost the match against his compatriot, but was reported by the female official to the authorities who adjudged him guilty and fined him an astonishing amount of £18,500, removing him from the competition with immediate effect in the process.
Now, the former Australian Open doubles champion has come out explaining his stance, apologising for his behaviour, before stating he is not a sexist.
Speaking to Sky Sports Italy, as per Metro, Fognini said: “I apologise to everyone, not just the umpire, who I already apologised to in New York, but to all those who felt hurt, women in the first place: I have nothing against them.
“Being described as a sexist has hurt me because it’s not true: I’m a father, I’m married, I have a mom, a sister, I’ve always loved women, I’ve always respected her, so I’m sorry.”
He is even prepared to visit schools and tennis academies to educate youngsters of not resorting to such actions, which was indeed a mistake on his part.
“I’m ready to go to the schools to talk to the kids about my mistake. I know the severity of my gesture, I know I did something heavy.
“At this moment, in addition to addressing my apologies, I am willing to go into a tennis school or any kind of school to talk to children and say what I think, that is, I’m wrong and it will not happen anymore.
“It’s my limit, I recognise it and I’m working with a mental trainer. I have to say that in the last period we were on the right track, then this nonsense I did is not explainable.”
The world number 26 admitted he is aware of his responsibilities and he is ready to bear any consequences for his act as he could even face further sanctions in the coming days.
“I assume my responsibilities, I know I have done a great wrong and I have paid the consequences now. I know the thing is still fresh and I could have other sanctions, but I’m ready to pay.
“I cried when I was alone, I admit it. I cried because in the end I know that is not right. There will be no such thing anymore.”
Fognini also competed in the doubles division alongside Simone Boletti and already won two more rounds after the incident, thereby setting up a third round clash against American and Aussie pair Nicholas Monroe and John Patrick Smith.
Ahead of the tie, Fognini was kicked out of the tournament, meaning the match was forfeited to their rivals as they exited following the suspension.