Tennis

Tennis star threatens to boycott Miami Open next year due to unruly fans

Caroline Wozniacki, shown here during the 2018 Miami Open, said she may boycott the 2019 Miami Open to protest the tournament's reaction to her complaint of fan abuse.
Caroline Wozniacki, shown here during the 2018 Miami Open, said she may boycott the 2019 Miami Open to protest the tournament's reaction to her complaint of fan abuse. Miami Herald

World No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki, a part-time Fisher Island resident who recently had the courts there named after her, said she may boycott the Miami Open tennis tournament in 2019 to protest what she felt was an inadequate response by tournament officials to her complaint of verbal taunts by fans directed at her family in the stands last month.

She said members of the Stadium Court crowd on Key Biscayne hurled foul language and insults at her family during her second-round loss to Miami resident Monica Puig, who was the local fans’ favorite that night.

Speaking to reporters at her home in Monaco on Wednesday, the reigning Australian Open champion criticized Miami Open tournament director James Blake’s response to her claim and added: “Tennis is known to be a great sport, a sport for families, a sport for all ages, a sport with great fans and great traditions. But the experience that I had in Miami was awful, and hopefully something we’ll never experience again.

“I have to make a decision where I feel I want to go back [to Miami] or not. I haven’t made that decision yet. I would have hoped that [James Blake] would have made a stance, but he didn’t and that’s that.”

She said as a result of the incident, she “slept horribly for probably four or five days” and that the niece and nephew of her boyfriend, retired NBA player David Lee, left the match in tears.

Blake issued a statement the morning after the Puig-Wozniacki match that read: “The security of the players is our No. 1 priority. Last night’s match between Caroline and Monica was played in front of a loud and passionate crowd.

“While I personally feel that no one should have to endure any sort of abuse on the court, we do our best to provide a safe and fair environment. During the match, we had tournament and WTA staff as well as tournament security courtside.

“They never witnessed, nor were they notified of any specific threats made to the players or their families. If we had been notified, the situation would have been handled immediately.”

Told Wednesday that Wozniacki is considering boycotting next year’s event, tournament spokesman Sam Henderson said the Miami Open has no further comment on the matter.

The Miami Open is owned and operated by IMG. Wozniacki last year was highly critical of IMG client Maria Sharapova after her return from a 15-month drug ban. Sharapova’s agent Max Eisenbud, the vice president of tennis at IMG, responded in a statement to tennis writer Ben Rothenberg: “All those ‘journeyman’ players like [Agnieszka] Radwanska and Wozniacki who have never won a slam and the next generation passing them, they are smart to try to keep Maria out of Paris [the French Open].

“NO Serena [Williams], NO Maria, NO Vika [Azarenka], NO Petra [Kvitova], it’s their last chance to win a slam.”

He later issued a private apology to Wozniacki, who won the Australian Open in January 2018.

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