Tennis player Maxime Hamou won’t be seeing a tennis court anytime soon.
The 21-year-old athlete has been banned from the French Open for trying to kiss a reporter despite her obviously unwelcoming body language. During a live interview on Monday, Hamou held French journalist Maly Thomas around the shoulders and planted a kiss on her neck as she tried to wiggle free.
The French Tennis Federation described the act as “reprehensible behaviour” and has ordered an investigation. Several anchors and commentators laughed and clapped at the incident, which lead to further criticism on social media. “He kisses her by force, she tries to get away, he holds her by the neck and everyone… laughs,” reads a translated tweet from French politician Cecile Duflot.
The reporter told Huffington Post France the encounter was “frankly unpleasant” and “if I hadn’t been live on air, I would have punched him.”
Hamou apologized for the incident in a lengthy Facebook post on Tuesday. “I offer my deep apologies to Maly Thomas if she feels hurt or shocked by my attitude during her interview,” he wrote.
“I have just spent a magnificent week here at Roland Garros… and I expressed my overflow of enthusiasm crudely towards Maly, who I know and respect sincerely,” he added. “I’m still learning every day from my mistakes to become a better tennis player and a better person.”
The French tennis player was knocked out of the competition’s first round on Monday, but he managed to garner a lot of controversy in that short time. He shouted at an umpire on Monday, asking “Why are you here?” and walked out on an interview on Friday.
Hamou holds a career-high singles ranking of 211.