Eighteen-year-old Danish tennis player Holger Rune is the subject of a current investigation by the ATP tour after yelling gay slurs during a match against Tomas Martin Etcheverry in the semi-finals of the Biella Challenger in Italy on Sunday.

During the match, Rune uttered the phrases ‘you are a pussy player’ and ‘you are playing like a faggot ass’ to his opponent, then proceeded to shout ‘Allez, faggot’ when winning a point during a match.

The ATP confirmed the news via a statement issued to TV2 on Monday, saying that they are investigating the incident under the official code of conduct (section 8.04).

“ATP is committed to ensuring an inclusive environment for all players, staff and fans, and there is absolutely no room for homophobic remarks in tennis,” the statement read.

“According to section 8.04 N.2 of the Player Code of Conduct, ATP is in the process of investigating the comments of Holger Rune during a match on Saturday 5 June 2021 in ATP Challenger 80 in Biella.”

Homophobic Slurs Spark outrage

The former World Number One Junior’s comments sparked outrage across social media with many quick to call him out. In response and in somewhat of an apology, Rune alleged that the words were not directed at his opponent, but at himself.

“I want to take the opportunity to apologise if I offended anyone for using some bad wording to myself in my semi-final yesterday during some tough points. I am sorry for that, and this will of course not happen again.” Rune posted on Instagram.

However, this was not Rune initial wording, as was pointed out by Tennis podcaster James, Rogers posted on a twitter a screenshot of the original statement, which read”“I want to take the opportunity to apologise if I offended anyone for using some bad wording to myself in my semi-final yesterday. I love diversity more than anyone I know and people that know, they no that! Sorry for not being as perfect as you all expect.”

“I don’t care about H*lger R*ne but this is one of the shittiest apologies I’ve ever seen” Rogers aptly captioned the post.

Homophobia In Sports

Unfortunately, Rune isn’t the first professional sports player this year to use such an excuse, after golf player Justin Thomas was similarly forced to apologised for using the word “faggot” during Tournament Of Champions in Hawaii.

Realising that his initial apology had done more harm than good and now on damage control Rune was quick to offer an second apology, this time saying “I’m young and I need to learn. Not that that allows me to say crap like that. I was taught a lesson, and I think it’s fair that people criticise (me). I’m really sorry and hope people will accept my apology,”

Yet the same day as Rune issued his apology, his mother and manager Aneke Rune hit out at V2 for ‘harassing’ her son for what she described as a ‘wrong comment’ saying that they were trying to ‘make news and gossip from a hard-working young man.’

“If you are a man you can apologise as Holger did if anyone felt offended by his words to himself in the match. Do NOT harass Holger for a wrong comment TV2 and who else is out there trying to make news and gossip from a hard working young man,” Aneke wrote on Instagram.

Rune is currently ranked 291st in the world, having claimed the French Open boys’ title in 2019 and recently won his maiden Challenger title in Biella.  It is unknown, what if any disciplinary action Rune is now set to face for using such derogatory language.


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