MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Australian Open quarterfinalist Tennys Sandgren said in an interview on Tuesday that he deleted several years of tweets to "move forward" and create a "version of a cleaner start" after he was questioned about his connections with right-wing activists on social media.
Sandgren's social media activity has been closely examined during his surprising run to the final eight at Melbourne Park. He was asked after his fourth-round win over Dominic Thiem about his links to controversial political figures and conspiracy theories.
During his post-match news conference on Monday, Sandgren denied supporting the far right movement, but said he found "some of the content interesting."
In his interview with ESPN on Tuesday, he sought to clarify that remark, saying it's "definitely not 'alt-right' content is interesting, just some individuals' specific content."
"(It's) not really specific 'alt-right' content that I deem of value, I think that's very incorrect and I don't find information like that to be of value or to hold onto any of those things," he said. "So it's not who I am as a person in any way."
He said he deleted all of his tweets not because it's "something that I'm really necessary embarrassed about," but because he thought that "creating a version of a cleaner start is not a bad call."
"People can screenshot, save and distribute everything they would like to," he said. "I know that, and that' fine. It is what it is. It's just something that I thought wouldn't be a bad way to kind of move forward."
Sandgren, who describes himself as a devout Christian, said he's also learning and growing as a person and "definitely doesn't have it all together."
The 26-year-old Sandgren is from Gallatin, Tennessee, and played two years of tennis at the University of Tennessee. His mother is from South Africa.
"I'm more than happy to talk with people and let people know how I feel about things," he said. "I've had to put the social media aside for now, I'll take a look at it and I'll take the criticism and I'll take the good with the bad and keep learning and growing as a person and try to move forward."