The highest ranking female Canadian tennis player, Françoise Abanda, says she'll never receive the same recognition as fellow Montrealer Eugenie Bouchard because of her skin colour.
Abanda's call-out came on social media Wednesday in response to a tweet questioning why she wasn't receiving the same treatment as Bouchard when she hit the top of the Canadian rankings.
I will never get the same treatment because I am black. It’s the truth! <a href="https://t.co/TicR8OnWo0">https://t.co/TicR8OnWo0</a>
The Montrealer says she has experienced racism throughout her tennis career and chose to speak out now because she felt her injury — she's currently suffering from a concussion — was ignored and hushed up when she was forced to forfeit her match at the recent Fed Cup.
Abanda is currently ranked 128th in the world. Bouchard, who peaked at 5th internationally in 2014, is currently ranked 169th.
"When you're black, I feel like you don't get the same exposure that you should get for a player ranked 120th," she said in a conference call Wednesday.
"I'm not asking to be exposed as a number one player. I'm not asking to get the same recognition as other players that have achieved more. I'm just saying there's a minimum that I don't even get."
Montreal-born Abanda called racial slur
Abanda said she has a great admiration for Bouchard, and the issue is not with her fellow player but with the treatment she's received as a woman of colour in the world of competitive tennis.
"It's a problem of race, a problem of inferiority and superiority that I'm disappointed that exists in my career," she said.
"I love Montreal but sadly, as I said, because my skin is black I get called African and — I hate to say the word, but — n–ger."
Abanda says she has experienced racism in the sport since she was a child. She recalled a time when she was playing in a provincial under-12 tournament when someone shouted at her to "go back to her own country."
The 21-year-old, whose family is originally from Cameroon, was born in Montreal.
Just 'telling my truth'
Recently, she said, she was slighted by Tennis Canada in a promotional video that included all of the players except for her.
"Do I need to win two Grand Slams to be included in that video? No. It's not normal," she said.
Tennis Canada said Abanda was not in the video because of a technical problem with the portion she filmed that couldn't be reshot because of her schedule.
They did not comment further on the issue.
Abanda said she was speaking out because she's brushed it off for too long, and she does not want future athletes to encounter the same treatment.
"I gave you a few examples, but there are hundreds and hundreds in my head," she said. "I'm speaking today to inspire change of a mentality and to change a problem that's very deep and will take a lot of time."
"I'm just speaking about my personal experience and telling my truth."