Caroline Wozniacki may boycott Miami Open next year after abuse at family
The world No 2 Caroline Wozniacki says she is considering whether to boycott the Miami Open – one of the four biggest women’s tournaments outside the majors – after the vile abuse that was directed at her family during her first-round defeat there last month. Speaking to reporters in Monte Carlo, Wozniacki revealed that she had not slept properly for a week after the match against Puerto Rica’s Monica Puig, during which a boozy and partisan crowd had aimed threats and foul language at her parents, her boyfriend David Lee, and even Lee’s young niece and nephew. “I slept horrible for probably four or five days after that,” Wozniacki said. “I wasn’t at ease. I really felt awful. There was a bad feeling in my stomach. David was there too and he even was like, ‘This is bad, this is not the way. This is not why we’re playing.’ “Tennis is known to be a great sport, a sport for families, a sport for all ages, a sport with great fans and great traditions. But the experience that I had in Miami was awful and hopefully something we’ll never experience again. I’ve played [Jelena] Dokic in Australia when she was making a run and she beat me, but the crowd was still amazing. They were cheering for her, obviously, but it’s still fun, it’s respectful and they’re great. “That’s the way it’s supposed to be. But to have David’s niece and nephew come over crying after the match – and having to explain to them because it’s not normal and this is not the way that people should behave – it’s not a good feeling. I just have to make a decision next year on whether I feel like I want to go back or not. I haven't made that decision yet.” Wozniacki hopes her family never experience anything like the abuse they suffered in Miami again Credit: Getty Images Wozniacki’s disappointment was only accentuated by the offhand response of the Miami Open’s new director James Blake. After Wozniacki posted a statement on social media detailing the abuse and calling on the tournament to “take this seriously”, Blake replied with a bland and apparently unconcerned statement saying that security and officials “never witnessed, nor were they notified, of any specific threats made to the players or their families”. This unsympathetic reaction seemed especially strange, as Wozniacki noted, because Blake has himself been the target of unwonted aggression. During the 2015 US Open, he was waiting in Manhattan to catch the regular shuttle bus to Flushing Meadows when a policeman tackled him violently to the ground in a case of mistaken identity. “The way that Miami was, was really not good,” said Wozniacki. “James Blake has been through these things himself and I would have hoped that he would have taken a stance, but he didn’t and that’s that. I’ve just tried to forget the whole thing, but I think it was important that I spoke up and said something about it because I don’t think it was okay.” Secret Service | Evert part of Simon Briggs' weekly column The ill-feeling left by the incident fits into a wider picture of unease between Wozniacki and IMG, the super-agency that runs the Miami Open. Last year, she was highly critical of the way the sport welcomed Maria Sharapova – the highest-earning woman on IMG’s books – back into the fold with wild cards and special dispensation. In return, she was the target of a furious rant from Sharapova’s agent Max Eisenbud. When it was pointed out to Wozniacki that Blake’s statement had come out of the IMG corporate machine, she replied: “That makes sense. Obviously it made me a little bit upset because I didn't feel like they had the players' back, or did much other than just try to pretend like everything was beautiful. I have a decision to make once the tournament comes around next year.” Wozniacki won her first grand slam in Australia back in January Credit: AP In the worst-case scenario, we could be heading for a similar stand-off to the one that kept Serena Williams out of Indian Wells for 14 years, after her family received a hostile reception from the Californian crowd. Admittedly, Wozniacki is 27, and thus likely to stand closer to the end of her career than the beginning. But she is also the reigning Australian Open champion, and the most influential female athlete in the world according to a recent Forbes magazine survey. If she does opt against future participation in Miami – a tournament where South American stars like Puig always draw the support of a largely Spanish-speaking crowd – Blake might regret not taking a firmer stand against obnoxious fans. On top of that, there could be a few executives asking why he didn’t put out a more conciliatory statement. Wozniacki was speaking in Monte Carlo, where she lives, on behalf of a new fitness app named Lympo that offers rewards in exchange for physical activity. Her next tournament will be in Istanbul next week, as she builds towards the French Open – the only major where she has yet to go beyond the quarter-finals.