Former Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka has condemned a social media post by rising star Dayana Yastremska, in which the Ukraine player portrayed herself as blackface.
The 20-year-old, who reached the fourth round at Wimbledon last year, posted four images of herself which had been altered to display one half of her body black, and the other half white.
The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Equality.”
Osaka was quick to denounce the posts, with an Instagram message to Yastremska: “Girl I know you didn’t just do blackface,” followed by a skull emoji.
Despite deleting the post, Yastremska remained defiant.
“Earlier today I posted pictures that I thought would spread a message of equality,” Yastremska wrote on Instagram. “It clearly did not and has been misunderstood.
“I have been warned about the negative impact but I did not — and still don’t — consider it as blackface.
“I did not intend to caricature but to share my feelings about the current situation: we should all be treated as equal.
“I am so disappointed that my message has been corrupted: these pictures divided people when they were meant to unite. That’s why I deleted them.
“I sincerely apologise to all the people I have offended. I truly had only good intentions.”
The controversy comes just weeks after black player Taylor Townsend spoke out about racism she had experienced while playing.
“Even in the tennis world it is not a united place,” she told the WTA.
“We lose our identity of who we are because there can only be one.
“I’ve had people argue with me to tell me that I’m Coco Gauff.
“I’m not Coco Gauff but all of us look the same, all of us are built the same, everybody sees a black person and they assume it’s Venus or Serena (Williams) or Sloane (Stephens).
“Even from the aspect you walk through and nobody stops you and I’m walking through and somebody has to check my bag, check my credential, check my coach’s bag, check my coach’s credential.
“It’s extra-security, extra-precautions that need to be taken to make sure I belong.”