Sandgren denies right-wing views, apologizes for posts

American tennis player Tennys Sandgren has denied holding right-wing activist views and denounced any implied association with those who do.

Sandgren had been accused of homophobia and racism for comments he made in the past on social media, which have since resurfaced during his run to the Australian Open quarter-finals where he lost to South Korean Chung Hyeon.

Former world number one Serena Williams was among people who called for Sandgren to apologize for his remarks, particularly one in which he described a visit to a gay club in 2012 as having "left his eyes bleeding".

In a long statement on Saturday on his Twitter account, Sandgren apologized for his past comments and explained why he had appeared to follow politically right-wing profiles.

"Let me emphatically say that I do not hold any alt right views, and I denounce any implied association with that group," Sandgren wrote.

"I unequivocally believe in the equality of all peoples as made in the image of God."

The 26-year-old, who broke into the ATP Top 100 late last year, said he was sorry.

"I followed and interacted with a wide variety of people from different backgrounds and ideologies from the right and left of the political spectrum," he wrote. 

RELATED: Take an inside look at the controversial star athlete:

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US tennis player Tennys Sandgren
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 03: Tennys Sandgren returns against Greg of Australia during day eight of the 2007 U.S. Open at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 3, 2007 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
25 MAY 2010: Tennys Sandgren of the University of Tennessee pumps his fist after a point against the University of Southern California during the Division I Men's Tennis Championship held at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex on the University of Georgia campus in Athens, GA. USC defeated Tennessee 4-2 for the national title. Jamie Schwaberow /NCAA Photos via Getty Images
PARIS - MAY 31: Tennys Sandgren of USA hits a backhand during the Boy's Singles First Round match against Stanislav Poplavskyy of Ukraine on day eight of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 31, 2009 in Paris, France. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 13: Tennys Sandgren of the USA celebrates his win against Yasutaka Uchiyama of Japan during 2016 Australian Open Qualifying at Melbourne Park on January 13, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 12: Tennys Sandgren (USA) stretches to return the hard shot during the U.S. Men's Clay Court Championships on April 12, 2017 at River Oaks Country Club in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - JANUARY 09: Tennys Sandgren of USA plays a forehand in his first round match against Hyeon Chung of Korea during day two of the ASB Men's Classic at ASB Tennis Centre on January 9, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 16: Tennys Sandgren of the United States serves in his first round match against Jeremy Chardy of France on day two of the 2018 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 16, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 24: Tennys Sandgren of the United States looks on in his quarter-final match against Hyeon Chung of South Korea on day 10 of the 2018 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 24, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 24: Tennys Sandgren of the United States falls in his quarter-final match against Hyeon Chung of South Korea on day 10 of the 2018 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 24, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by XIN LI/Getty Images)
Tennis - Australian Open - Quarterfinals - Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, Australia, January 24, 2018. Tennys Sandgren of the U.S. leaves after losing against Chung Hyeon of South Korea. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
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"What I thought was something harmless and innocuous, I see now as being understandably hurtful and confusing. I am sorry for that."

Sandgren continued: "This is a tumultuous time in our political landscape It seems each issue has become polarizing and communication has broken down to the point where people refuse to talk to each other.

"I encourage everyone to keep an open mind, to think critically and honestly."

Sandgren encouraged people "to avoid tribalism and collectivism".

"I have not always practiced this in the past, and for that I am sorry," he said. "I will do better moving forward."

(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Salvo, North Carolina,; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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