Tennis player Maxime Hamou has been banned from the French Open for grabbing and kissing a female reporter.
The 21-year-old Hamou, a French qualifier who lost to Pablo Cuevas in the first round on Monday, also held Eurosport TV journalist Maly Thomas around her neck as she tried to move away during a live interview at Roland Garros.
The French tennis federation issued a statement criticising Hamou’s “reprehensible behaviour with a journalist” and said its disputes commission will investigate the case “for improper conduct.”
Thomas told HuffPost France the incident was “frankly unpleasant”, adding: “If I hadn’t been live on air, I would have punched him.”
Hamou has since posted an apology on Instagram. He said: “I would like to offer my deepest apologies to Maly Thomas if she felt hurt or shocked by my behaviour during her interview.
“I just spent a wonderful week here at Roland Garros, living my most beautiful emotions as a tennis player and I let my overflow of enthusiasm express itself awkwardly towards Maly, who I know and who I sincerely respect.
“Nothing of what is written was my intention. I am available to her to present my apologies in person if she would like. I still learn every day from my mistakes to become a better tennis player and a better person.”