French Open tournament organizers have revoked the credential for 21-year-old French tennis player Maxime Hamou after his on-camera harassment — or “inappropriate behavior,” as French Open organizers described it — of Eurosport reporter Maly Thomas.
On Monday afternoon, Thomas approached Hamou for a live Eurosport interview after his first-round loss to Agentine Pablo Cuevas.
Hamou was in a good mood despite his loss, presumably because despite being ranked Number 287 in the world, he had received a wild card in the qualification tournament and had won enough matches to enter the main draw of the French Open.
When Thomas approached, Hamou grabbed her by her shoulder, pulled her directly to his side, and kissed her on the cheek twice. Throughout the encounter, which lasted less than a minute, Thomas tried to pull away, while Hamou continued to kiss her and pull her closer to him as she asked him interview questions.
“It was, frankly, unpleasant. If it hadn’t been on live broadcast, I would have punched him in the face,” Thomas, who was reportedly not on the grounds at Roland Garros on Tuesday, told the Huffington Post France.
When Hamou first leaned in to kiss Thomas, she asked him, “What are you doing?”
“I don’t know,” he responded.
Thomas continued with the interview, but Hamou eventually wrapped his entire arm around her neck and pulled her away from the camera as she attempted to escape his grasp.
Throughout the encounter, Thomas’ Eurosport cohosts laughed.
“They laugh because they think it is a joke,” she said to Huffington Post France. “But they quickly need to realize that is not the case.”
Hamou’s actions have drawn comparisons to those of Australian cricket star Chris Gayle, who openly flirted with Network Ten journalist Mel McLaughlin after a game last year.
“I wanted to be interviewed by you as well. That’s the reason why I’m here, just to see your eyes for the first time. It’s nice,” Gayle said. “So hopefully when I win this game, we can have a drink after. Don’t blush, baby.”
In 2003, New York Jets legend Joe Namath made headlines when he repeatedly told ESPN reporter Suzy Kobler, “I really want to kiss you right now,” during a sideline interview.
As for Hamou, the French Tennis Federation (FFT) has reportedly asked for the disputes committee to investigate him for improper conduct.
Natasha Geiling provided translation for this piece.