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Nazi-era version of German anthem played before US-Germany tennis match in Hawaii

Opera singer Will Kimball (Image source: YouTube)

The U.S. Tennis Association has apologized after playing the Nazi-era version of the German national anthem before a match in Hawaii Saturday between American Alison Riske and Germany's Andrea Petkovic at the Fed Cup tournament at the Royal Lahaina Resort in Maui.

Opera singer Will Kimball, who performed the controversial rendition, is a three-time metropolitan opera national finalist and has made more than 30 appearances throughout the U.S. and Europe. Kimball currently works as a school teacher in Hawaii, according to his introduction Saturday.

Kimball sang all three verses of "Deutschlandlied," which is translated "Song of Germany." Little did Kimball know, however, the country uses only the third verse of the anthem today. That's because the first verse includes, "Deutschland, Deutschland uber alles, uber alles in der Welt," which translated is “Germany, Germany, above all, above all in the world," and was used as Nazi propaganda during Adolf Hitler reign in the 1930s and 1940s.

The piece was originally written in 1841 by the Austrian composer Franz Joseph Haydn, decades before Hitler rose to power.

"I thought it was the epitome of ignorance, and I've never felt more disrespected in my whole life, let alone in Fed Cup," Petkovic said, according to the Washington Post. "I've played Fed Cup for 13 years now and it is the worst thing that has ever happened to me."

German players, knowing the first verse of the anthem was outdated, tried to drown out the words by singing the words of the third verse.

The U.S. Tennis Association, which hosted Saturday's match, issued an apology shortly after the incident, vowing it would never happen again.

“The USTA extends its sincerest apologies to the German Fed Cup team and all of its fans for the performance of an outdated national anthem prior to today’s Fed Cup competition,” the USTA said in a statement, the Post reported. “In no way did we mean any disrespect. This mistake will not occur again.”

Riske and Petkovic faced off again Sunday in Hawaii for the second day of the Fed Cup, when only the third verse of the anthem was performed.

Riske defeated Petkovic in the singles match 7-6, 6-3, CNN reported.

(H/T: Reuters)

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