Australian Open surprise packet Tennys Sandgren has hit back strongly at the media's heightened interest in his political views via a prepared statement following his quarter-final loss to South Korean youngster Hyeon Chung at Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday.
Sandgren refused to answer questions about the off-court storm which has engulfed him in recent days, but delivered a scathing rebuke to his critics at the start of his press conference.
The American 26-year-old, who is also a devout Christian, has come under scrutiny for following far-right political figures on Twitter and expressing controversial political viewpoints in the past on the social media platform. He has since deleted all but one of the tweets from his Twitter account.
Living legend Serena Williams appeared to take a dig at Sandgren earlier on Wednesday, tweeting 'Turns channel' as her countryman's match against Chung began.
"You seek to put people in these little boxes so that you can order the world in your already assumed preconceived ideas," Sandgren began.
"You strip away any individuality for the sake of demonising by way of the collective. With a handful of follows and some likes on Twitter, my fate has been sealed in your minds. To write an edgy story, to create sensationalist coverage, there are few lengths you wouldn't go to to mark me as the man you desperately want me to be."
He continued: "You would rather perpetuate propaganda machines instead of researching information from a host of angles and perspectives while being willing to learn, change, and grow. You dehumanise with pen and paper and turn neighbour against neighbour.
"In so doing, you may actually find you're hastening the hell you wish to avoid, the hell we all wish to avoid. It is my firm belief that the highest value must be placed on the virtue of each individual, regardless of gender, race, religion or sexual orientation. It's my job to continue on this journey with the goal of becoming the best me I can and to embody the love Christ has for me, for I answer to Him and Him alone."
Having previously never won a grand slam match, and with only two ATP Tour wins to his credit prior to this year's Australian Open, Sandgren described reaching the final eight of a major and playing against one of the sport's up-and-coming stars as "amazing".
"He's a fantastic player," he said of Chung.
"It's such a fun challenge because he does so many cool things with how he moves and how he returns and how he plays with his forehand.
"So it was kind of like an extremely difficult puzzle to try to figure out. I wasn't able to figure it out, but I enjoyed trying."