Written by Staff Writer, CNN Mexico City
After losing the first round of the U.S. Open last week, the then 20-year-old American golfer Shelby Rogers came under fire for the manner in which she was defeated by Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist.
As Rogers dug herself into a 4-up hole on the 16th hole, the crowd, booing for every missed putt, branded her “embarrassing” and “pathetic.”
In her turn, Nordqvist, competing in her fourth U.S. Open, composed herself and held her nerve to close out the match 3&2.
Still, the crowd’s behavior was noted by the CBS announcers and on social media — with Brit tennis player Andy Murray, who was nearby the time of the match, tweeting, “Wow. That was awful.”
At the time, Rogers defended her performances and claimed there was sexism at play when “women’s errors are booed worse than men’s.”
Wrong time, wrong place
But the criticism did not abate and now things are set to get worse — the U.S. Open was scheduled to begin this week, seven days after Rogers lost her opening match.
“The bottom line is I’m going to have 9 million death threats,” Rogers told the Washington Post.
“I can’t stop this. It’s going to be horrible.”
She added, “If you look back, obviously they were attacking me, but they were saying crazy things about me every other minute,” referring to the row.
Rogers, who trains in California, did not respond to interview requests by CNN.
Plenty of others share her sentiments.
“I would rather ignore than deal with it all,” replied John Tavares, a Reddit user.
“‘Bottom line is I’m going to have 9 million death threats,’ says @shelbymersa…”
Shelby’s coached takes it in the ‘crap’
Others questioned why people were not also giving Nordqvist the same treatment Rogers had received.
“They’re saying this, but should they also say that about Anna? By the way, it’s not like Anna had a great week, she was beaten by Tilly Noren in the first round of the Japanese Open in the week before. Do you know how many times they booed that player?” asked Peter Pho, a tennis commentator on US television.
While Rogers defended her performance in an interview with the Washington Post, others were less kind.
“I’m not a fan of yours. You had a terrible first round and you had a terrible second round, and you had a terrible first round of a major,” wrote one person, while another added, “If you don’t know how to hit the ball you are not better than average! Give me a break!”
“You’re a bad golfer. You know it,” said another.
“You go home to the little girl. America went crazy, and you were a hot mess.”
An emotional response to backlash
When a reporter for Forbes contacted Rogers on Wednesday, she decided to respond to the criticism in her own inimitable style, speaking directly to a picture of Nordqvist in the front of the publication’s page.
In a now-deleted Instagram post, the writer asked, “What about Anna? What about Anna who took this kind of crap? What do you think about some of the things people are saying?”
Rogers was then urged to apologize by people in the comments.
In an Instagram post, Chris Pauline, who was sports editor at Butler, a women’s college newspaper, says, “I respect the way you handled it, that response to the public, thanking you for doing it, showing empathy towards Anna, my eyes just grew wider watching it.”
Commenting after a Sports Illustrated article, Dan Seetas said, “While this is not an issue with an ongoing public pressure like race or rape culture, what people are saying and saying they are experiencing is of equal if not higher magnitude. She handled it appropriately. She was attacked physically, she was called bad names for no reason, she had an awful relationship with a misogynistic man, she handled that all in a sensationalist, nasty way, then still went out and played the best golf she could.”
Elsewhere, a distraught Rogers asked her 4,188 Instagram followers “why is this happening?”