Fake news, 15-love.
Darko Grncarov, a 20-year-old Macedonian who has earned the praise of tennis stars like Serena Williams, Martina Navratilova and James Blake — and has been the feature of multiple mainstream media stories for his inspiring desire to return to the court after a six-month coma and his progressive social stances — has been outed as a fraud, in a piece on Slate, which reveals how Grncarov fooled so many and fabricated nearly his entire tale.
Grncarov is a real person, who at the very least briefly played competitive tennis, and started gaining attention on social media when he said he would have refused to play at Margaret Court Arena at the Australian Open because of the eponym’s homophobic and transphobic remarks, and called American Tennys Sandgren an “idiot” for his promotion of dangerous, and debunked, alt-right myths.
Williams followed him on Twitter — Grncarov had praised the Williams sisters on social media — and sent him a direct message, telling him how inspiring his story was, and what an “honor” it would be for her and her daughter, Alexis Olympia, to meet him. Navratilova was impressed with Grncarov’s social stance, and retweeted a story about him, wishing him good luck. Blake said he wanted to announce his future matches.
Only one match result of Grncarov is verifiable — a junior event, 6-0, 6-0, first-round qualifying loss to Nikola Vukotic at the 2015 Podgorica Open — but the teenager began touting wins from matches that never happened. He appeared on a TV show in Strumica, Macedonia, and passed along his invented success to outlets, which posted stories about him, until a local reporter fact-checked the claims.
“When I checked it out, it was crap,” reporter Aleksandar Bojadziski told Slate. “I ordered my employees to never post him again, ever.”
Grncarov built a loyal following on Twitter — likely an army of trolls, helping his account become verified — eventually roping in the official…