Player banned after groping antics

France's Maxime Hamou was captured on video manhandling Eurosport journalist Maly Thomas during an interview after his first-round French Open loss. The world No. 287 has apologised for his actions.
France's Maxime Hamou was captured on video manhandling Eurosport journalist Maly Thomas during an interview after his first-round French Open loss. The world No. 287 has apologised for his actions.PHOTO: YOUTUBE / QUOIDENEWS

PARIS • A French tennis player who tried to kiss a television reporter against her will during a live broadcast at Roland Garros was banished from the tournament on Tuesday for his "reprehensible behaviour".

Maxime Hamou, 21, grabbed Eurosport journalist Maly Thomas around the neck and shoulders while she interviewed him following his first-round defeat by Pablo Cuevas on Monday.

Footage of the interview showed Hamou pulling Thomas close before kissing her on the side of the head.

As Thomas looked embarrassed and tried to push him away, he kissed her again.

After answering a question, Hamou kissed her a third time, and pulled her towards him while she tried to peel his hand off her chest.

"It was frankly unpleasant. If it hadn't been live on air, I would have punched him," said Thomas.

Hamou, the world No. 287, was subsequently banned from the Roland Garros site by organisers.

"The tournament directors have decided to cancel the accreditation of Maxime Hamou following his reprehensible behaviour with a journalist on Monday," said a Roland Garros statement.

A Eurosport spokesman told AFP that Hamou's actions were "highly inappropriate".

The Frenchman had already come under fire for his behaviour during a qualifying match last week when he screamed at an umpire: "Why are you here?"

French journalist Claude Askolovitch tweeted in French: "In a normal world, Maxime Hamou would be in court for sexual assault."

Later on Tuesday, Hamou made a public apology to Thomas.

"I want to offer my deepest apologies to Maly Thomas if she felt hurt or shocked by my attitude during her interview," he said.

"I just had a wonderful week at Roland Garros... and I let my enthusiasm be expressed awkwardly towards Maly whom I know and respect.

"I am at her disposal to apologise to her in person if she so desires."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 01, 2017, with the headline 'Player banned after groping antics'. Print Edition | Subscribe