Australian Open: Tennys Sandgren says media are 'demonising' him

By Piers NewberyBBC Sport at Melbourne Park
2018 Australian Open
Dates: 15-28 January Venue: Melbourne Park
Coverage: Watch highlights on BBC Two, the BBC Sport website and app. Live commentary on the best matches on BBC Radio 5 live, 5 live sports extra and online.

American tennis player Tennys Sandgren accused the media of "demonising" and "propaganda" following controversy over his social media activity.

The world number 97's unexpected run to the Australian Open quarter-finals ended with defeat by South Korea's Chung Hyeon on Wednesday.

Sandgren, 26, then read a prepared statement from his phone addressing scrutiny of his political beliefs.

He accused the media of "sensationalist coverage".

Sandgren, who said the media "dehumanise with pen and paper", was first asked about his social media presence following his fourth-round match on Monday, and denied supporting the US 'alt-right' movement, saying he merely found "some of the content interesting".

Despite insisting that whom he chose to follow on social media did not represent his views, Sandgren then deleted all but one of his Twitter postings.

Addressing a news conference following his match in Melbourne on Wednesday, he read a statement and then refused to take further questions on the subject.

"I was fine talking about tennis," Sandgren said when asked to elaborate.

"I'm fine talking about a lot of things. But I feel like this has gone very far away from the tennis."

Sandgren's statement read: "You seek to put people in these little boxes so that you can order the world in your already assumed preconceived ideas.

"You strip away any individuality for the sake of demonising by way of the collective.

"With a handful of follows and some likes on Twitter, my fate has been sealed in your minds.

"To write an edgy story, to create sensationalist coverage, there are a few lengths you wouldn't go to to mark me as the man you desperately want me to be.

"You would rather perpetuate propaganda machines instead of researching information from a host of angles and perspectives while being willing to learn, change, and grow. You dehumanise with pen and paper and turn neighbour against neighbour.

"In so doing, you may actually find you're hastening the hell you wish to avoid, the hell we all wish to avoid.

"It is my firm belief that the highest value must be placed on the virtue of each individual, regardless of gender, race, religion or sexual orientation.

"It's my job to continue on this journey with the goal of becoming the best me I can and to embody the love Christ has for me, for I answer to him and him alone."

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