Amarissa Toth’s apology for celebrating as tennis opponent Zhang Shuai left the court in tears was ‘cold and challenging’, body language expert claims

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Amarissa Toth’s apology for celebrating as tennis opponent Zhang Shuai left the court in tears was ‘cold and challenging’, body language expert claims

Amarissa Toth’s apology for celebrating while her opponent Zhang Shuai was left in tears has been labelled ‘cold and challenging’ by a body language expert.

Shuai, a former world No 22 and Wimbledon quarter finalist, retired from the Hungarian Open after becoming visibly upset by a poor umpiring decision.

She had hit a crosscourt forehand that appeared to land on the line but was called out by the line judge, leaving the 34-year-old incensed.

Toth then went to rub out a mark left by the ball with her foot, as Shuai screamed, ‘Wait, wait, wait, keep the mark! What are you doing? Why would you do that?’ 

She was mocked by the crowd as she argued with the umpires and Toth appeared to be laughing at her. Shuai retired from the match shortly afterwards.

Amarissa Toth's apology for her behaviour during her clash with  Zhang Shuai has been labelled 'cold and challenging' by a body language expert

Amarissa Toth’s apology for her behaviour during her clash with  Zhang Shuai has been labelled ‘cold and challenging’ by a body language expert

Shuai (pictured) was left in tears and unable to continue at the Hungarian Open after a series of controversial acts from Toth

Shuai (pictured) was left in tears and unable to continue at the Hungarian Open after a series of controversial acts from Toth

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Her 20-year-old opponent made no mention of the mark she tried to erase in her apology, as she said: ‘I did not think that my first ever WTA main draw success of my career would cause such a storm.

‘I am extremely sorry for what happened, I respect Zhang Shuai as a person and just as much as an athlete. It was never my intention to disrespect, to upset or to hurt anybody, let alone Zhang Shuai.

‘I do realise I shouldn’t have celebrated the way I celebrated after the match and I’m sorry for that but I got caught up in my emotions, by the heat of the match, and I got caught up in the moment.’

‘I focused on tennis, I didn’t want to win like that. I hope that in the future I have the opportunity to sit down and talk with Zhang Shaui and tell her how badly I feel that our match ended this way.’

Her delivery during the apology was unconvincing, as MailOnline’s Body Language expert Judi James explains: ‘Toth says all the right words here but her delivery is ‘cold’ in body language terms, meaning she barely moves and her facial expression does not illustrate any attached emotions.

‘It looks more like a flat recitation and we can see her eyes appear to flick down now and again as though she has the words in front of her.

‘She looks confident, with a level eye-stare into the camera that only drops quickly a couple of times and then not in an evasive cut-off.

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‘Her “I’m extremely sorry for what happened” comes with no puckering of the brows or movement of the head that might illustrate sorrow or upset. Her voice scoops upward at the end of the sentence, making it sound a little like a question, not a statement, although this might be a cultural trait.

When Toth says 'It was never my intention to disrespect, upset or hurt anyone' her eyes narrow slightly in what looks like a challenge

When Toth says ‘It was never my intention to disrespect, upset or hurt anyone’ her eyes narrow slightly in what looks like a challenge

She ends with a lip clamp, with the lips pulling up at the corners. The suggestion is that she has now made her apology and should be allowed to move on.

She ends with a lip clamp, with the lips pulling up at the corners. The suggestion is that she has now made her apology and should be allowed to move on.

Toth could be seen walking towards the contested ball marking and scuffing it out with her foot before officials could take a closer look

Toth could be seen walking towards the contested ball marking and scuffing it out with her foot before officials could take a closer look

Toth had initially denied that she had behaved badly in her match with Zhang in the prior round

Toth had initially denied that she had behaved badly in her match with Zhang in the prior round

‘When she states that “It was never my intention to disrespect, upset or hurt anyone” her eyes narrow slightly in what looks like a challenge, making it seem as though she is responding to an accusation.

‘She ends with a lip clamp, with the lips pulling up at the corners. The suggestion is that she has now made her apology and should be allowed to move on.’

One fan labelled Toth’s behaviour as a ‘new low for sportsmanship’, while Australian player Ajla Tomljanovic called the Hungarian’s conduct ‘disgusting’ and Wimbledon finalist Ons Jabeur agreed that it was ‘not acceptable’.

Meanwhile, tennis icon Martina Navratilova directed her fury at the umpire, insisting she was ‘unfit to call matches’ following her handling of the situation.

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Who were the players involved? 

Zhang Shuai

Shuai, 34, who has spent over a decade in the sport, is a two-time major champion in women’s doubles after claiming victory at the Australian Open in 2019 and the US Open two years later. Both of those double triumphs came alongside Australian partner Samantha Stosur.

The Chinese star also reached the Wimbledon final in 2022 with Belgium’s Elise Mertens, only to suffer defeat against Alexa Guarachi and Andreja Klepac.

She has a career-high doubles ranking of world No 2 and has picked up 12 titles on the WTA tour.

As a single, Shuai has reached two major quarter-finals at the Australian Open in 2016 and Wimbledon three years later. She is one of only five Chinese tennis players in history to make it to this stage of a Grand Slam and has also been ranked as high as No 22 in the world.

Amarissa Toth 

Toth, 20, is only a few years into her professional career after making her WTA Tour main-draw debut at the Budapest Grand Prix in 2021.

She has a career-high ranking of 534 in singles and 264 in doubles, and has claimed 12 ITF Circuit finals titles – 11 of them coming in doubles.

The Hungarian youngster’s highest rank win so far came in the 2022 Slovak Open, where she got the better of Germany’s Eva Lys in the first round.

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