A Flash of Anger, a Charge of Racism and a Witness Who Says It Didn’t Happen
A ball person who stood within a few feet of an altercation between the professional tennis players Donald Young and Ryan Harrison at the New York Open on Monday said he witnessed the entire incident and did not hear any racially charged comments.
Michael Bruno, 26, gave that account to investigators at the ATP after Young accused Harrison in a Twitter posting of making a racist remark during the match. Harrison denied the accusation and, in his own social media post, urged anyone with audio or video of their angry exchange during a changeover to make it public.
Bruno said that in addition to his cooperation with tennis officials he also felt an obligation to speak publicly after seeing disparaging remarks about Harrison on social media. He called the criticism unfair.
The ATP, the organization that runs the men’s professional tennis tour, announced on Friday that its investigation of the incident found no evidence to support Young’s claim.
“All available evidence was reviewed including match footage and interviews with match officials and other tournament personnel who were in close proximity of the players,” the statement said. “Unfortunately, the audio recording on the match footage did not pick up verbal exchanges between the players. At this time no evidence has been found to support the allegation that Ryan Harrison used a racial slur during the match.”
Bruno’s account and the findings of the ATP’s investigation suggest that either Young fabricated the claim about a racial epithet or no one else heard it.
In an unusually explicit insight into an on-court incident, Bruno said he clearly heard and remembered everything that was said, and also spoke to all the other ball people involved — a matter of course for ball people after a match. They all concurred, he said, that they heard foul language and threats and that the incident almost became physical, but no racial slurs.