Top tennis player issues panicked denial after appearing to ‘like’ homophobic tweet

Tennis player Taylor Fritz shouts while holding his racquet on court, he is wearing a red tee shirt and matching headband.

American tennis ace Taylor Fritz, 26, found himself in virtual hot water on Tuesday (20 February), after being called out for appearing to ‘like’ a homophobic tweet on X (formerly Twitter).

Taylor Fritz, who has a career-high singles ranking of world No. 5 by the Association of Tennis Professionals, and a doubles ranking of world No. 104, vehemently denied that he had intended to like the tweet, which was a response to a post by controversial US martial artist Sean Strickland complaining about Pride month.

On , Strickland tweeted, “How did the gays get an entire f**king month lmao. Could you picture Washington seeing Pride month? ‘Is this to honor the war of independence?’ Ummm no actually there is a day for that… it’s ummmm actually to honor two dudes f**king… lmao!!!”

Entrepreneur Nina Yamini, the cousin of noble peace prize winner Shirin Ebadi, responded to Strickland’s tweet, saying, “if the founding fathers would wake up, they’d press the reset button.”

It’s this response by Yamini that Fritz ‘liked’. Likes are public on X, and a user called @melanie_lautrup spotted that Fritz had clicked the heart icon beneath Yamini’s tweet. Lautrup screenshotted the exchange and posted it online, with the caption “yikes”. The screenshots were retweeted 169 times, getting 344,000 views.

Fritz quote-tweeted Lautrup in response, and emphatically stated that he’d not intended to like the tweet.

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He tweeted: “Holy s**t I just got sent this and had a heart attack…. I DEFINITELY didn’t purposefully like this, I was looking at Stricklands profile a couple days ago cause of all the news he was in while in Vegas. I had to of accidentally liked that while scrolling the replies but wow just want to make it clear for anyone that doesn’t know me i absolutely don’t stand for any of this and if u we’re to look at my likes it’s either all gaming/tennis things I would NEVER do that on purpose.”

Strickland came under fire recently after going on an anti-LGBTQ+ rant in the build-up to his fight against Dricus Du Plessis on Saturday 20 January, which he lost. At the event, Strickland was asked by Canadian journalist Alexander Lee to address a homophobic comment he made in 2021, in which he had suggested that if he had a gay son, he would believe he had “failed as a man.”

After asking Lee whether or not he was gay, or if he had voted for Trudeau, Strickland called the reporter a “weak f***ing man” and went on an unrelated tangent about Trudeau, who is a supporter of LGBTQ+ rights.

Many people replied to Fritz’s apology, with some saying that they didn’t believe him and that he should just “own” his homophobia, while others sent messages of support, including members of the LGBTQ+ community.

One person tweeted, “Gay fan here. Thanks for clarifying. I also encourage you to take the next, riskier step of affirming pride for LGBTQ+ people. Given the extreme vulnerabilities of queer people (especially young people who live in inhospitable environments), your words can make a difference.”

The original poster, Melanie Lautrup, screenshotted the clarification, and posted it to her own account, writing “Fritz has given his explanation to this: said he accidentally liked it while scrolling through the replies, that he doesn’t stand for this. So yeah, impossible to know the truth in a situation like this & someone’s real intentions so it’s up to u to make that judgement I guess.”

PinkNews has reached out to Taylor Fritz’s representative for additional comment.