Andy Roddick rips tennis in Saudi Arabia for repression and homophobia

The former US Open winner asks how do we protect our players whose lifestyle choices are considered criminal when they enter that country

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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Andy Roddick rips tennis in Saudi Arabia for repression and homophobia
© Elsa / Staff Getty Images Sport

Andy Roddick, in his podcast, talked about Saudi Arabia's entry into tennis. The former US Open winner expressed his doubts about Saudi Arabia, underlining how in the country there is still discrimination against women, such as those who love people of the same gender, censorship and political persecution.

"In Saudi Arabia, loving a person of the same gender is illegal. But we have players who have openly come out. Several players like Daria Kasatkina, to name one, have come out. If there are tournaments in that country, what should we say to these players, who have to take a week off because of their coming out? How do we protect our players whose lifestyle choices are considered criminal when they enter that country?" explained Roddick.

Tennis in Saudi Arabia© Alexander Scheuber / Stringer Getty Images Sport

Saudi Arabia breaks in tennis

Saudi Arabia has decided to focus heavily on tennis. After the Next Gen ATP finals which have now found a home in Jeddah and the exhibition event last December in which Aryna Sabalenka, Ons Jabeur and Novak Djokovic also participated, the country has announced a new major exhibition event in October 2024.

A super exhibition 6 Kings Slam will be held in Riyadh, in which six of the best players in the world will take part: Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz, Daniil Medvedev, Jannik Sinner, Holger Rune and Rafael Nadal. Of all these players, only the Dane has never won a Slam title.

Not much more is known about this performance yet but it is certainly a new demonstration of strength by the Saudis. Saudi Arabia therefore strengthens its commitment to tennis. The news was given on X and with a press release by Turki Alalshikh, an organizer who is very active in organizing entertainment in the Arab country which also includes sport.

The statement also reports the words of the players. "I'm excited to return to Riyadh and compete in front of my Saudi fans," said Djokovic. Nadal, who is also an ambassador for Saudi tennis, added: "After other players have done it, I can't wait to play for the first time in Riyadh." Carlos Alcaraz also spoke about his presence in this tournament, stating that he was happy to return to the Saudi city.

For Sinner and Rune it will be the first time in Saudi Arabia, while Medvedev returns after being part of the 2019 Diriyah Tennis Cup. Many aspects of this event are not known, such as duration, exact dates, format, but it will certainly cause a lot of discussion, for better or for worse.

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