US tennis federation plays Nazi anthem, roiling Fed Cup series with Germany.
The United States Tennis Association apologized on Saturday for introducing a Fed Cup match with a portion of Germany’s national anthem that was once used as Nazi propaganda.
“The USTA extends its sincerest apologies to the German Fed Cup team and all of its fans for the performance of an outdated national anthem prior to today’s Fed Cup competition,” the statement said. “In no way did we mean any disrespect. This mistake will not occur again, and the correct anthem will be performed for the remainder of this first-round tie.”
The United States took a 1-0 lead and was ahead in the other opening match in its best-of-5 Fed Cup quarterfinal Saturday.
America’s Alison Riske beat Germany’s Andrea Petkovic 7-6 (10), 6-2, and CoCo Vandeweghe led Julia Goerges 6-3, 3-1 when rain halted play.
Petkovic, who was born in Bosnia, said in the German-speaking portion of her press conference that she considered walking off the court as the anthem went on.
“I thought it was the epitome of ignorance, and I’ve never felt more disrespected in my whole life, let alone in Fed Cup, and I’ve played Fed Cup for 13 years now and it is the worst thing that has ever happened to me,” Petkovic said after her loss.
Riske was apologetic in her press conference.
“As it was happening, obviously, we have no idea,” Riske said. “But news got around to us and it’s extremely unfortunate. We have nothing but respect for the German team and obviously that will not happen again.”
Although Petkovic had reacted angrily to the anthem mix-up on Saturday, on Sunday she took to Twitter to offer a “less emotional” explanation of her feelings.
“We were mainly (stunned) and did not know how we react. We feared the whole thing could fall back on us,” Petkovic said.
“With (time) and a little more rationality, I can classify it as a mistake (for) which the Americans apologized to us. And again it is not the worst thing which happened to me in life. But it is the worst thing which happened to me in my Fed Cup life ever.”
The team and a handful of supporters tried in vain to sing the correct verse — “Unity, Rights and Freedom” — but couldn’t make themselves heard.
Germany captain Barbara Rittner said she had even pondered snatching the microphone from the singer.
“I could have cried, because it is always a special moment, which gives you goosebumps, when you hear the anthem being played,” Rittner said.
The president of the US Tennis Association, Katrina Adams, immediately apologized to Rittner in person and promised to investigate.
The German tennis federation replied tersely, “@usta we hope so…”, prompting the USTA to respond, “@DTB Tennis We can assure that it won’t. Again, our sincere apologies.”