American Taylor Townsend pointed to disturbing messages that tennis players are constantly subjected to, sharing death threats that she received following her recent loss at the Internazinali BNL d’Italia.
The 27-year-old qualifier Townsend recorded her best by-ranking win by defeating world No.3 Jessica Pegula in the second round of the tournament in Rome, but then fell to Wang Xiyu in the third round. As if losing a match is not hard enough, tennis players often face additional burden by receiving abusive messages, insults and death threats.
The mother on tour recently revealed a disturbing email she received that contained racist and threatening language. The email’s subject line read: “Congratulations to fat dumb ni****,” and the following message included graphic death threats and an indication of willingness to face legal consequences.
Sadly, the abusive email received by Townsend is not an isolated incident in the world of professional tennis. Many players face constant online bullying and harassment, which can have a severe impact on their mental health and well-being. In fact, just last month, Danka Kovinic of Montenegro shared abusive messages she received after losing a match, including one that urged her to commit suicide.
These incidents highlight the urgent need for action to address the issue of online abuse in tennis and ensure the safety and well-being of all players. Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig is alarmed and disgusted by the situation in sports and prompts the governing bodies of tennis to take action:
“ATP & WTA we need to start doing better at protecting our players from this. Not only is this a mental health issue but a security issue as well. In today’s world this CANNOT be ignored.”