Tennis stars want names of match-fixers
Around the world, players, commentators and fans echoed the call of Roger Federer, who wants to know names of those suspected of match-fixing in a growing scandal that one ex-pro described as a “major wake-up call for the world of tennis.”
Many called for clarity, saying the public and players have a right to know who is suspected of cheating. Others warned that the match-fixing scandal has the potential to damage the reputation of tennis, just like doping or corruption scandals have hurt professional cycling, athletics, baseball and soccer.
Martina Navratilova, the 18-time Grand Slam champion, tweeted: “We need facts, not suppositions.”
The scandal broke Monday when the BBC and BuzzFeed News published reports, timed for the start of the Australian Open, alleging that tennis authorities have ignored widespread evidence of match-fixing involving 16 tennis players who have ranked in the top 50 over the past decade.
BuzzFeed titled its story, “The Tennis Racket,” and said that half of those 16, including a Grand Slam winner, were at this year’s Australian Open.
“This really casts a very dark shadow on our sport right now,” Mary Jo Fernandez said on ESPN, as part of a panel discussion Wednesday on the controversy.
“Hopefully because the world is watching, something will be done about it. We need to flag who these players were,” said Fernandez, a three-time Grand Slam finalist, winner of two Grand Slam women’s doubles titles and two Olympic gold medals.
Federer was among the first to demand more information: “I would love to hear names,” the Swiss star said Monday at a post-match news conference. Referring specifically to the claim about a former Grand Slam winner, he asked, “Was it the player? Was it the support team? Who was it? Was it before? Was it a doubles player, a singles player? Which Slam? It’s so all over the place. It’s nonsense to answer something that is pure speculation.”
His comments have resonated with those who say not knowing leads to dangerous speculation. “This is turning into a witch hunt,” said Patrick McEnroe, a former French Open doubles champion and captain of the U.S. Davis Cup team who was in Melbourne commentating.