Fabio Fognini has deeply apologised for his demeaning comments aimed at a chair umpire during his first round defeat at US Open. The number one Italian player has offered to discuss his mistake with schoolchildren as a lesson. Fognini had made crude and misogynistic slur during the match for which he was fined $24,000 and then kicked out of the tournament. He faces a long term ban which could severely hamper his career.
“You are right, there are no excuses, no mitigating circumstances for what I have done,” said Fognini. “I am here to say I’m sorry to everyone, to the chair umpire, that has already received my apologies in New York, and to all the people that felt offended by my words, especially all women. I have nothing against women, I have been called sexist, which I am not. I am a family man, I have a wife, a mother, a sister: I have always loved women, I have always respected them, and therefore I am very sorry for what I said,” he added while speaking to Sky TV reporter Lia Capizzi.
“I know made a terrible mistake, so in addition to renewing my apologies to everyone, I am also available to go to a tennis school or an ordinary school to explain to children what I really think. I know what came out of my mouth, I can’t take it back, but I know I won’t do it again,” he said in response to a suggestion that his comments can create an impression on youngsters.
This isn’t the first time Fognini has erred and been fined for his mistake. He has a long history of fines over misbehaviour one and off the court. “I know this is a character fault of mine. I’m already working with a mental trainer, and I thought that we were on the right track, so I can’t really explain this slip-up. I know I made a terrible mistake, I’m paying for it, and there may be more consequences. But this is the price of making mistakes”.
“When Federico (his son with wife and retired tennis player Flavia Pennetta) grows up I’ll tell him that I was disqualified because I behaved badly on court. I wasn’t a good example for kids, for those who may see me as an idol, since I am the best-ranked Italian player, and this hurts even more”.
With ITF likely to hand him a harsh punishment, including a Grand Slam ban, Fognini said he will accept the decision and try to turn a new page on return. “Should [the Grand Slam Board] decide to ban me from the next Australian Open, I will accept the decision, because actions have consequences, and I need to pay for what I did.”
“Yes, I must admit that I did cry when I was alone, because I know that I’m not like that. It hurts to read all the headlines. I am aware of the severity of my mistake, I take full responsibility for it. A decision will be made, and I’ll move on, I’ll turn the page, with this stain on my shoulder that will never go away,” he stated.