Yastremska defends deleted blackface photos as 'misunderstood'

Dayana Yastremska reached the fourth round of Wimbledon in 2018 and has won three WTA titles. Fred Lee/Getty Images

Pro-tennis player Dayana Yastremska has defended pictures she posted on social media of her doing blackface as "misunderstood."

The World No. 25 ranked player posted four photos of herself with half her body painted black and a caption which read "Equality."

Following criticism, Yastremska deleted the pictures and posted an explanation on Friday.

"Earlier today I posted pictures that I thought would spread a message of equality," Yastremska said in a statement on social media. "It clearly did not and has been misunderstood.

"I have been warned about the negative impact but I did not -- and still don't -- consider it as blackface.

"I did not intend to caricature but to share my feelings about the current situation: we should all be treated as equal.

"I am so disappointed that my message has been corrupted: these pictures divided people when they were meant to unite. That's why I deleted them.

"I sincerely apologise to all the people I have offended. I truly had only good intentions."

The 20-year-old player reached the fourth round of Wimbledon in 2019 and has three WTA titles.