The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

French Open bans player who tried to forcibly kiss a female reporter on live TV

A French tennis player made all the wrong moves Monday  — and not just on the court.

After losing in straight sets to Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas in the first round of the French Open, Maxime Hamou attempted to plant several kisses on a female reporter during his exit interview. While some of the hosts of the French-language program “Avantage Leconte” that broadcast the moment live on the country’s Eurosport channel laughed at the situation, others, including French Open organizers, took the matter more seriously.

On Tuesday, tournament organizers banned Hamou from returning to Roland Garros for the duration of this year’s tournament.

“The management of the tournament has decided to revoke Maxime Hamou’s accreditation following his reprehensible behavior with a journalist yesterday,” the French Tennis Federation said in statement (via the Telegraph).

Hours after losing his accreditation, Hamou commented on the incident and offered his “most profound apologies” to the reporter, Maly Thomas, “if she felt hurt or shocked by my attitude” during the interview.

“My overflow of enthusiasm led me to express myself awkwardly toward Maly, whom I know and sincerely respect,” he posted to Instagram on Tuesday.

Hamou’s statement did not specifically reference his repeated attempts to kiss Thomas, who told Huffington Post France on Monday that the interaction was “frankly unpleasant.”

Thomas added (via a BBC translation): “If I hadn’t been live on air, I would have punched him.”

Footage from the interview shows Thomas stepping to get her microphone closer to Hamou, but when she approaches, the 21-year-old immediately puts his arm around her and attempts to kiss her neck. He can be seen attempting to kiss her several more times as she tries to duck out of his grasp. At one point, Thomas can be seen trying to lift his arm up to escape.

“He kisses her by force, she tries to get away, he holds her by the neck and everyone … laughs #tired,” French politician Cécile Duflot wrote on Twitter, criticizing the Eurosport hosts’ reaction to the interaction.

Several of the hosts shown simultaneously on the screen can be seen and heard laughing as Hamou awkwardly restrains Thomas from moving away from him.

Eurosport executives did not immediately react to the matter Monday, however, the company issued a statement Tuesday noting (via Reuters), “We sincerely regret the incident that occurred during yesterday evening’s interview between Maly Thomas and Maxime Hamou.”

The French Tennis Federation said it will further investigate the incident.

An emotional Petra Kvitova wins first match at French Open since she was stabbed

This isn’t the first time a female reporter has been harassed in a similar way by a male athlete. Most infamously, perhaps, was an incident in the United States involving NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath and reporter Suzy Kolber. While chatting with Kolber on the sideline following a 2003 game between the New York Jets and the New England Patriots, the retired quarterback drunkenly leaned toward Kolber and declared twice, “I want to kiss you.”