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Former Tennis Great James Blake Says He Got Tackled by the NYPD on His Way to the US Open

The Harvard star who once ranked number four in the world says race was "probably" a factor in plainclothes cops mistaking him for an identity-theft suspect.
September 9, 2015, 10:00pm

Via Flickr user Vinqui

The US Open tennis tournament is closing in on its championship round in Flushing Meadows, Queens, which means America's rich and powerful—from Kim Kardashian to Donald Trump—flocked there on Tuesday to watch star athletes like Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic duke it out in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

James Blake—no, not that James Blake—was planning to attend the Open for corporate events on Wednesday. But according to a report from the New York Daily News, the former tennis pro—who grew up with a bad back and broke his neck in May 2004 after colliding with a net post during practice in Rome—didn't make it. That's because five plainclothes NYPD officers mistook him for an identity theft suspect and slammed him to the ground outside of his midtown hotel, he told the paper.

The 35-year-old Harvard dropout remembers looking up from a text to see one cop charging. "Maybe I'm naïve, but I just assumed it was someone I went to high school with or something who was running at me to give me a big hug, so I smiled at the guy," he told the Daily News.

Blake was only in handcuffs for 15 minutes, but he wants an apology from the officer who mistook him for a crook. He told the paper he wasn't sure if it the incident was the result of racial profiling, but thought it "probably" was a factor. Mostly, he wants to draw attention to what he thought was an example of excessive force.

"I have resources to get to the bottom of this. I have a voice," Blake said. "But what about someone who doesn't have those resources and doesn't have a voice?

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