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Mother of Model With Down Syndrome Writes Tennis Star Bernard Tomic After He Uses the R-Word

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Australian tennis star, Bernard Tomic, is getting heat for an insensitive remark made during a press conference at the Wimbledon Championships.

Referring to having to wait for his opponent, Fernando Verdasco, to enter the court, Tomic remarked, “Yeah, I did get to the court prior to him very early, and unfortunately I had to stand on court like a retard.”

Upset by his thoughtless remark, Rosanne Stuart – mother to Madeline Stuart, a model with Down syndrome – wrote a letter, which she shared with the Daily Mail.

“After seeing your interview on national television I am horrified and disgusted that a capable man such as yourself could be so naive and ugly with your use of language in the public arena,” the letter begins. “As you know, I have a daughter with Down syndrome and this disgraceful comment would be referring to her if we took it literally. Mind you, I am also completely at a loss as to how waiting around on a tennis court can reflect in any way on her behaviour or anyone with an intellectual disability.”

“Mr. Tomic, I will remind you that people with intellectual disabilities are either born that way or become that way because of sickness or an accident,” Stuart writes. “They do not choose to have these extra challenges that they have to face each and every day including delightful discrimination such as yours.”

Stuart closed her letter with this powerful message: “We are now living in the 21st Century and please remember you and her are public figures and people look up to you and support you. How can we expect the younger generation to continue to grow and learn humility and love with this type of example. I hope you have learned from this act of complete naivety that the ‘R’ word is never acceptable in any situation or used in any manner of reference.”

Tomic has since apologized, saying the words did not come out correctly.

Spread the Word to End the Word! You can head here to pledge to stop using the R-word. It’s a step toward creating more accepting attitudes and communities for all people.

Originally published: July 8, 2016
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