Tennys Sandgren’s Twitter account was wiped virtually clean earlier this week. Serena Williams’s Twitter feed features several new tweets from the last 24 hours alone, including two referring to the rising American tennis player with a history of controversial social media activity.
Playing in his first Grand Slam event, the 26-year-old Sandgren stunned two top-10 players — Stan Wawrinka and Dominic Thiem — and became just the second man in the last 20 years to reach the quarterfinals while playing in the Australian Open for the first time.
Sandgren’s sudden success in Melbourne made him the subject of some scrutiny by the media, which found some interesting items in his Twitter history, including one that seemed to support the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory pushed by Hillary Clinton opponents and a retweet of a video by Nicholas Fuentes, the former host of a podcast called “America First” who attended the white nationalist rally last year in Charlottesville, Va., that ended with the death of an anti-nationalist protester.
Also in a tweet, Sandren once used the word “disgusting” to describe a video of Williams yelling at Italian player Roberta Vinci during their 2015 U.S.Open match.
On Tuesday, Sandgren deleted those and almost all of the other tweets on his feed. He told ESPN of the move, “creating a version of a cleaner start is not a bad call.”
Still, Williams seems to have noticed his account before the cleansing. When Sandgren’s Australian Open quarterfinal match against Hyeon Chung was about to begin, Williams tweeted, “Turns channel.”
After he lost that match 6-4, 7-6 (5), 6-3, Sandgren read a statement addressed to the media.
“With a handful of follows and some likes on Twitter, my fate has been sealed in your minds,” he said. “To write an edgy story, to create sensationalist coverage, there are a few lengths you wouldn’t go to to mark me as the man you desperately want me to be.
“You would rather perpetuate propaganda machines instead of researching information from a host of angles and perspectives while being willing to learn, change, and grow. You dehumanize with pen and paper and turn neighbor against neighbor. In so doing, you may actually find you’re hastening the hell you wish to avoid, the hell we all wish to avoid.”
Williams addressed Sandgren directly with a tweet on Wednesday morning.