Talk about a fashion faux pas.
The Association of Tennis Professionals, the world governing body for men’s tennis, apologized Monday after allowing organizers of the Next Gen tournament in Milan, Italy’s fashion capital, to stage what has been criticized as a sexist display to reveal the tournament draw.
Along with making players, who are exclusively aged 21 and under, select from a row of female models to determine if they fell in group “A” or “B,” some models had to lift their dresses or remove clothing to reveal the players’ draw group; others saw players remove long gloves using their teeth.
The event unfolded in front of a live audience and on a live stream, where it began to go viral online and draw widespread criticism from reporters as well as women players.
The mother of British tennis star Andy Murray, who is not in the tournament, even chimed in, simply calling the event “awful” on Twitter.
With increasing demands to apologize continuing into Monday, ATP did just that in a joint statement issued with tournament sponsor Red Bull.
“The ATP and Red Bull apologize for the offense caused by the draw ceremony for the Next Gen ATP Finals,” the statement said (via Reuters). “The intention was to integrate Milan’s rich heritage as one of the fashion capitals of the world.
“However, our execution of the proceedings was in poor taste and unacceptable. We deeply regret this and will ensure that there is no repeat of anything like it in the future.”
This is the first time the ATP has organized the Next Gen ATP Finals, which was set up to showcase the men’s sport’s top youth talent. The tournament, which will be held in Milan through 2021, began Tuesday and will run through Saturday.