After fan and peer backlash on her behavior at the Budapest Grand Prix, Hungarian Amarissa Toth has come out to apologize to Zhang Shuai. The Hungarian erased a ball mark during their first round Grand Prix match on Tuesday. After a disputed line call and unsportsmanlike behavior from her opponent and the crowd, the Chinese player left in tears.
At 6-5 after the first set, Zhang hit a cross court forehand which appeared to land on the line but was ruled out by the line judge. The chair umpire then stepped onto the court to take a look at the mark and confirmed the line judge’s position. Zhang, who was unhappy with the decision, asked to speak with the tournament’s supervisor. The match continued for another point before Toth walked up the disputed mark and erased it with her shoes.
The home crowd was jeering the Chinese world number 28 throughout the incident and Zhang eventually opted to retire from the match. Toth’s behavior was criticized by the media as well as by fans online, who thought it was disrespectful to her opponent.
I respect Zhang Shuai as a player and as a person: Toth
In a statement to the Budapest Grand Prix Facebook page, Toth said, “I did not think that my first ever WTA main draw success of my career would cause such a storm.”
Later she apologized and said, “I am extremely sorry for what happened, I respect Zhang Shuai as a player and as a person. It was never my intention to disrespect, hurt or upset anybody, let alone Zhang Shuai. I do realise I shouldn’t have celebrated the way I celebrated after the match and I’m sorry for that. In the heat of the match and got caught up by my emotions and the moment. I focused on tennis, I didn’t want to win like that”
Though she initially said she was in the right to erase the mark, she later stated that she hoped to speak to Zhang in person and sort the issue out.