The Hungarian Grand Prix Open saw controversy when Zhang Shuai retired halfway through the match. Shuai was playing against Amarissa Kiara Toth when the latter was caught removing a ball mark on the court. This show of bad sportsmanship on Toth’s part has drawn criticism from the tennis fraternity.
The incident occurred during the opening set when scores were tied at 5-5. Zhang‘s forehand down the line was called ‘Out’ by the umpire. Zhang protested against the call, asking the match official to get a supervisor to look at it one more time.
Toth took this opportunity to rub out the mark left by the ball. When Shuai realized what had happened, she broke down and retired from the match. This incident has been widely condemned by players and fans alike. Wimbledon runner-up Ons Jabeur extended her support to Shuai on Twitter.
All the support to Shuai ❤️
This is not acceptable. https://t.co/AjHJQKHYLo
— Ons Jabeur (@Ons_Jabeur) July 19, 2023
Jabeur was not the only player to show support to Shuai though. This incident has the WTA united in a way never seen before. Ajla Tomljanovic said, “Absolutely disgusting behavior. Shuai is a better person than a lot of us for shaking the ref and that girls hand. But then again it’s Shuai we are talking about , ofc she did.”
Victoria Azarenka could not believe what she saw and tweeted, “That’s another level of unsportsmanlike conduct. Just wow.” Caroline Garcia and Maria Sakkari, two of Zhang’s co-competitors on the tour, showed solidarity with the Chinese ace.
— Caroline Garcia (@CaroGarcia) July 19, 2023
— Maria Sakkari (@mariasakkari) July 19, 2023
Urszula Radwanska said that Amarissa Toth should “win the award for unsportsmanlike conduct of the year.”
This support from her peers must mean a lot to Shuai. It is very easy for such incidents to be swept under the rug and never be spoken of again. Not in this case though, because the locker room is united for Shuai.
Amarissa Toth shows no remorse for her actions against Zhang Shuai
Hungarian tennis player Amarissa Kiara Toth has shown no sign of remorse for her actions against Shuai. In fact, the player has doubled down on her stance.
“I don’t understand why she (Zhang) made such a fuss out of it, that she wanted to overrule the umpire’s decision,” Toth told Radio Kossuth (via New York Post). “I don’t understand why she didn’t accept it, all in all, it was she who was looking for trouble.” added 18-year-old Toth.
When Shuai was contesting the umpire’s call, Toth saw it fit to get rid of the ball mark. Zhang Shuai was even heard asking Toth, “What are you doing?” as she was walking away.
A clearly stressed Shuai was heard asking, “Why did you do that?” as Toth responded, “You’re making problems.” After shaking Shuai’s hand, Toth immediately lifted her arms in victory. As she was taunting Zhang, the crowd backed her up, booing Shuai off the court.
While the tennis fraternity has come together in solidarity with Shuai, it is still unclear if Amarissa Toth will face consequences for her conduct. This incident should be a lesson for all aspiring players that unsportsmanlike behavior will not be tolerated.