The American tennis star pointed his racket like a gun at a line judge after his call was overturned
During Sunday’s match with his brother and doubles partner, Bob Bryan, against Federico Delbonis and Roberto Carballés Baena, Mike challenged a call made about a toss from Delbonis.
The ball had landed close to the baseline and officials originally called it in. When they went to review the video, it showed that Mike, 41, had been correct and the ball had actually landed outside the line. When his challenge was validated, the tennis player was caught on camera taking his racket and pointing it like a rifle — staring down the handle as if it were the barrel of a gun — at the line judge.
He was initially given a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct by chair umpire Mariana Alves for the gesture but was later fined for the action.
“We thought it warranted that amount,” Brendan McIntyre, a U.S. Tennis Association spokesman, told NYT about the fine.
Bryan’s actions came amid a mass shooting in West Texas on Sunday that left seven dead and 22 wounded.
Mike later apologized for his behavior, explaining that he had meant for it to be “playful.”
“We won the point and the gesture was meant to be playful,” he said in a statement given to the NYT. “But given the recent news and political climate, I understand how my gesture could be viewed as insensitive. I promise that I will never do anything like this again.”
According to the outlet, the tennis star’s fine was the largest of this year’s Open so far.
The brothers — who hold the most doubles titles ever in the Open era, and have won five U.S. Open men’s doubles titles together — returned to the courts this year after their longtime partnership was forced to take a year off when Bob, 41, underwent hip-resurfacing surgery in August 2018.
“We played first in ’95 when we were 17 years old, so we’ve seen this place change, evolve,” Mike told PEOPLE last week ahead of their first match. “The Arthur Ashe stadium wasn’t even here. Now, 25 years later, we’re 41, kind of just walking in here, soaking it all up. Because we don’t know how many opens we’re gonna play.”
“We’re really excited to be playing together again. Especially after [Bob’s surgery], I mean, he had a cane,” he added. “He couldn’t barely even walk last year at this time. And now we’re back on the court and one of the favorites. So we’re pretty excited.”
Despite the incident, the Bryans went on to win Sunday’s match, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3.