Laura Siegemund was reduced to tears following her defeat to Coco Gauff as she accused the US Open crowd of lacking ‘respect’.
The 35-year-old threatened to cause an upset in the first round by claiming the opening set, before eventually losing 3-6 6-2 6-4 at Flushing Meadows.
In a gruelling game that lasted two hours and 51 minutes, teenager and home favourite Gauff criticised her opponent over her ‘slow’ play.
The 19-year-old was delighted when umpire Marijana Veljovic deducted the German a point in the deciding set, with those watching on booing Siegemund’s delaying tactics.
Siegemund, who has won two Grand Slam doubles tournaments in New York, let out her emotions in her post-match press conference.
Taking aim at the fans – which included former US President Barack Obama and boxing legend Mike Tyson – she said: “They treated me like I was a bad person.
“Would I enjoy it more if you played a great shot and people screamed and gave you the respect you deserve for your performance in that moment? Yes, you enjoy it more.
“I’m 35. What do I play tennis for? I made good money, I’m not probably going to reach my best rankings anymore. I play out there for the people, for the effort.
“I can still play. My body is giving me the chance to play a little bit more and I know there are fans out there that appreciate fighting and not giving up and just good sport.
“I think this is the first time I am crying in a press conference. I thought as a tennis player you are a performer.
“You owe the people, you owe the kids that watch, you owe the people that buy tickets for a lot of money.
“At the end of the day I go home and I look at myself and I can say I did a great job, but did I get anything from the people for that? I didn’t.
“Maybe it’s not zero, but maybe it feels pretty much like a flat zero right now.
“Even less than zero because they treated me bad, like I was a cheater, like I was trying sneaky ways to win the match or something, they treated me like a bad person.
“There are people throwing rackets, who are screaming, who are making bad gestures towards the audience and not one moment in the whole match did I do anything, I was just slow.”
Siegemund added: “I am a fighter, I never did anything against the audience. I stayed calm. I never made not even a gesture against the audience.
“And they had no respect for me. They had no respect for the way I played. They have no respect for the player that I am.
“They have no respect for tennis, for good tennis. This is something that I have to say hurts really bad.”