'I just couldn't play on'

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IN THE long history of lawn tennis, no player has ever levelled so serious an accusation as that made yesterday by Jeff Tarango. He claimed one of the world's leading umpires, Bruno Rebeuh, the man officiating on Court 13 yesterday, had shown bias in the past to players with whom he was friendly. The American player, in a post-match interview, claimed that the French tournament referee and a supervisor at Wimbledon, Gilbert Ysern, was aware of complaints made by Tarango against Rebeuh more than a year ago. These are extracts from an extra-ordinary press conference . . .

Q: Do you want to give us your version of events out there, Jeff?

A: Well, things were pretty crazy, and I have a lot of basis for what I am saying. It's a long, long story. I'd like to keep as little people involved as possible, but I'm afraid it's going a little bit bigger than that, and I'm sorry that things happened, but I don't feel that a player has any defence these days in getting some kind of justice when things go wrong against him . . . so I had to just stand up for what I believe in.

He was then asked to be specific and made various claims . . .

Q: Jeff, are you saying that the umpire today has deliberately helped opponents against you for financial gain?

A: Not against me; against other people.

Q: For financial gain?

A: I think it's just to gain friendship. I think the guy is a real loser.

Q: What happened today began with the ace call that you argued about, and was called against you and then did it develop from there?

A: Well, to me that's a definite judgement call, and the judgement definitely went against what I thought was what I had seen on TV since I was a little kid as to what the ruling is. And, you know, I know the rules pretty well, and I don't think that, for saying "shut up" to a crowd who is yelling obscenities at me and telling me to shut up and telling me to do whatever they want to do, that for me, to say "shut up" to them, I don't believe that's an obscenity. And for him to give me an obscenity call and a fine on national TV I think that that is outrageous.

Q: Is the umpire a personal friend of Alexander Mronz, do you think?

A: I don't know.

Tarango then made serious allegations about bias from the umpire in favour of another player in the past. Tarango's wife then joined the press conference and revealed that she had slapped the umpire after yesterday's game. The player was then asked about his future plans . . .

Q: Do you think you can still keep playing tennis after this? Can you still be on the tour?

A: I enjoy the game of tennis. Like I said, I think that Wimbledon is the greatest event and I love tennis and I love a lot of things about it, and I would miss competition, I think.

Q: Do you think Wimbledon will let you in if you enter next year?

A: Well, I don't know. That's their decision. I don't feel that I've done anything against the Lawn Tennis Club. I hope that it's nothing embarrassing to them. I love this event, but that's their choice, but I think they're pretty proper individuals. So I don't think it will be a problem.

Q: You say you love the event, but how did that square with defaulting?

A: I'm afraid sometimes you have to stand up for what you believe in, and I can't be backed up against a wall in that situation, and I mean, I don't believe I could have played on. I really don't.