This year’s Fed Cup, a major international women’s tennis tournament in which countries compete against each other, is being hosted by the United States Tennis Association in Hawaii. Among the countries competing is Germany, and prior to one of Germany’s matches, former opera singer Will Kimball performed the wrong verse of the national anthem.
This wasn’t simply a mix-up that can be easily overlooked, as Kimball performed the verse used by Nazi Germany that was cut from the song after World War II. That verse proclaims “Deutschland, Deutschland uber alles, uber alles in der Welt” which translates to “Germany, Germany, above all, above all in the world.”
In the video, you can see the German team and some fans singing the correct verse over the top of Kimball’s performance, and afterwards members of the team spoke about how shocked and offended they were by the use of the Nazi version of the anthem.
“I thought it was the epitome of ignorance, and I never felt more disrespected in my whole life,” Andrea Petkovic told reporters after her match. “I’ve played Fed Cup for 13 years now, and it was the worst thing that has ever happened to me.”
“This is an absolute scandal, a disrespectful incident and inexcusable,” German coach Barbara Ritter said. “I could have sobbed. Hearing the national anthem at the Fed cup is a holy moment.”
The USTA apologized for the incident, but the damage has been done.
“The USTA extends its sincerest apologies to the German Fed Cup team and all of its fans for the performance of an outdated national anthem prior to (Saturday’s) Fed Cup competition,” said the USTA in a statement. “In no way did we mean any disrespect. This mistake will not occur again, and the correct anthem will be performed for the remainder of this first-round tie.”
“Our American hosts at the Fed Cup opening in Hawaii made a mistake that should not happen,” German Tennis Federation chief Ulrich Klaus said. “The fact that in the year 2017 a wrong anthem can be played that is associated with the horror of the past was for players and staff and the officials present both shocking and disturbing. The USTA through its president Katrina Adams has apologized officially in writing and in person and deeply regrets the blunder.”
It’s an exceptionally bad mistake, even if an honest one, and it certainly won’t reflect well on the USTA or, generally, the United States when it comes to being respectful of other nations.