Tennis player banned from French Open after kissing, groping TV reporter
A professional tennis player gave sports fans bad flashbacks of Joe Namath saying he wanted to kiss ESPN's Suzy Kolber on live TV. Following a first-round loss at the French Open on Monday, Maxime Hamou did an interview with Eurosport journalist May Thomas for the Avantage Leconte program. It quickly turned into a horror show.
Hamou began the Q&A by putting his arm around Thomas and pulling her up against him. He then tried to kiss the reporter several times throughout their 45-second chat. Each time, Thomas did her best to avoid Hamou's advances and the clip ends with her clearly trying to pull herself away from him. See for yourself:
Nearly as troubling, are the in-studio commentators continuing to laugh while this went on.
Hamou, 21, has been banished from the remainder of the tournament, according to The Guardian. He could face further penalties once the French Tennis Federation, which called Hamou's behavior "reprehensible," reviews the incident.
In an interview with Huffington Post, Thomas said it was "frankly, unpleasant" and "If I hadn't been live on air, I would have punched him."
Hamou, ranked 287th in the world, earned a spot in the field as a wildcard. He issued the following apology to French newspaper l'Equipe:
"I want to offer my deepest apologies to Maly Thomas if she felt hurt or shocked by my attitude during her interview. 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 apologize 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."