French Open bans player for groping female TV reporter
‘If I hadn’t been live on air, I would have punched him,’ Eurosport’s Maly Thomas said
France’s Maxime Hamou returns the ball to Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas at Roland Garros. Photo: Eric Feferberg/Getty Images
The French tennis player Maxime Hamou was banished from the French Open for the duration of the tournament on Tuesday after he attempted to forcibly kiss a female reporter during a live TV interview.
Hamou was interviewed by Eurosport journalist Maly Thomas for the program Avantage Leconte after his first-round loss to Pablo Cuevas on Monday. The 21-year-old wrapped his arm around Thomas’s shoulder and kissed her on the head and neck as she rebuffed him, prompting laughter and clapping from the commentators in the studio.
“The management of the tournament has decided to revoke Maxime Hamou’s accreditation following his reprehensible behavior with a journalist yesterday,” the French Tennis Federation said in a statement. He could face further sanctions upon a review of the incident by the FTT’s disputes committee.
Thomas described the episode as “frankly unpleasant” in an interview with Huffington Post France, adding: “If I hadn’t been live on air, I would have punched him.”
Cécile Duflot, the former head of France’s Green Party, decried the episode on social media.
“He kisses her by force, she tries to get away, he holds her by the neck and everyone ... laughs,” Duflot wrote on Twitter in French.
Hamou, the world No287, was one of eight players granted a wild card into the French Open qualifying draw, earning a place in Monday’s first-round tie by winning three qualifying matches last week.
Eurosport issued a statement critical of Hamou’s “inappropriate” behavior.
“We sincerely regret the incident that occurred during yesterday evening’s interview between Maly Thomas and Maxime Hamou,” the statement read. “The behaviour of the interviewee was highly inappropriate and we do not condone such conduct in any way. Maly is a highly respected journalist and we are pleased that a full apology is being offered.”
Hamou expressed remorse for his behavior, saying he wanted to apologise to Thomas in person.
“I want to offer my deepest apologies to Maly Thomas if she felt hurt or shocked by my attitude during her interview,” Hamou told the French newspaper l’Equipe. “I just lived a wonderful week here in Roland Garros living my most beautiful emotions as a tennis player, and I let my overflow of enthusiasm express myself awkwardly towards Maly, who I know and sincerely respect. Nothing of all that is written was my intention.
“I am at her disposal to apologise to her in person if she so wishes. I learn every day from my mistakes to become a better tennis player and a better person.”