US tennis star feels some people don’t want Black players to succeed at the Open
Posted by Ben Liebrecht, Senior Editor on March 21, 2011
“Rack up the points,” Roger Federer told the South African press before Wimbledon this year.
The remark was almost certainly based on the fact that South Africa’s own Martin Laurendeke won the Wimbledon doubles title. But he was just one player, and Federer was far from alone, in expressing a belief that the game had moved on and that black players should not be excluded or discriminated against because of colour.
Many years ago – back in the early nineties, to give a few examples – the ATP would offer a couple of points and a wildcard to a promising young black player just after his big breakthrough to the top of the game. For some reason, however, the rule was never consistently enforced, and over the years it has been relaxed and allowed to be relaxed again, which is one reason why Federer is a former champion now but still has a lot of respect for some of the greatest players of all time.
Yet, as we saw in the mixed doubles final between Martina Hingis and Daniel Nestor, who played with Federer, Hingis’s team in the US is in denial over the fact that in many tennis countries, and in South Africa in particular, black players still face significant prejudice, prejudice that has been encouraged or at least facilitated by the same people who promote the concept of ‘black tennis’.
In 2010, when South African superstar Andy Murray was up against his German opponent Stefan Edberg, the German press was very critical of the player and even compared him to a chimpanzee, with the comment: “He likes to attack the net – and he’s only human”.
Now Edberg, who is, of course, Dutch, has publicly stated that he is prepared to have a beer with Murray, so clearly Federer and Murray are friends who are both prepared to go on playing, and it seems to be accepted that for Murray it is a relatively new concept. But with the rest of the world, he faces a different challenge.
In 2012, Murray was eliminated in straight sets by