After groping and non-consensually kissing a female reporter on live television, French tennis star Maxime Hamou won’t be returning to the French Open.
Eurosport journalist Maly Thomas was interviewing Hamou on Monday when the player proceeded to pull Thomas close to him and kiss her on the head and neck. As Thomas tried to remove Hamou’s hand and break away, Hamou proceeded to rest his hand on top of Thomas’ breast. Eventually, Thomas broke free. However, during the entire struggle, reporters back at the station were giggling and clapping at Hamou’s behavior.
The French Tennis Federation later banned Hamou for “his reprehensible behavior with a journalist,” threatening further disciplinary measures beyond the French Open after the federation reviews Hamou’s conduct. His behavior also opens a larger question about the relationship between male tennis players and female reporters, and whether similar incidents have happened in the past outside the camera lens.
In an interview with Huffington Post France, Thomas said the situation was “frankly unpleasant” to experience. “If I hadn’t been live on air, I would have punched him,” she explained, according to the Guardian.
Eurosport later condemned Hamou’s actions and defended Thomas in the incident.
“We sincerely regret the incident that occurred during yesterday evening’s interview between Maly Thomas and Maxime Hamou,” Eurosport said. “The behavior 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 also apologized, telling the French newspaper l’Equipe that he would like to personally say sorry to Thomas “if she so wishes.”
“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 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.”