French tennis player Maxime Hamou has been banned from the duration of 2017’s French Open for kissing a female reporter without her consent on live television.
After losing to Pablo Cuevas during a match on Monday, 21-year-old Hamou was interviewed by Eurosport reporter Maly Thomas. During the 45-second interview, Hamou repeatedly wrapped his arm around Thomas’s neck and pulled her towards him in order to kiss her cheek and ear. Thomas ― knowing she was on live TV ― attempted to laugh it off and escape Hamou’s grip. Despite Thomas’ obvious protest, Hamou continued to grab and kiss her.
Watch the full interview below:
On Tuesday, Thomas told HuffPost France that the interview was “frankly unpleasant.”
“If I hadn’t been live on air, I would have punched him,” she added.
The French Tennis Federation (FFT) announced on Tuesday that Hamou will be banned from the duration of the tournament because of his actions.
“The leadership of the tournament has decided to remove the accreditation of Maxime Hamou, following his reprehensible behavior with a (female) journalist, yesterday, Monday, May 29,” the federation said in a statement.
A few hours after FFT released their statement, Hamou posted an apology to Instagram.
“I would like to offer my deepest apologies to Maly Thomas if she felt hurt or shocked by my behavior during her interview,” Hamou wrote. “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 toward 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.”
In a statement released Tuesday, Eurosport condemned Hamou’s behavior as “highly inappropriate,” adding that “Maly is a highly respected journalist and we are pleased that a full apology is being offered.”