French Open bans Hamou over attempts to kiss reporter on live TV

Maxime Hamou at the French Open 2017Image copyright

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The incident took place during an interview after Hamou lost to Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas at the French Open

Tennis player Maxime Hamou has been banned by the organisers of the French Open after he tried to kiss a female reporter repeatedly during a live TV interview.

The French player, 21, kissed journalist Maly Thomas while holding her around her neck and shoulders, despite her efforts to duck away.

The French Tennis Federation (FTT) condemned the “reprehensible behaviour” and ordered an investigation.

Hamou has apologised for his actions.

The incident happened after he was knocked out of the first round of the competition on Monday.

It is the latest case to provoke allegations of harassment of female sports reporters.

Several anchors and commentators on the Eurosport programme Avantage Leconte laughed and clapped as it unfolded.

The episode drew ire on social media, including from French politician Cécile Duflot.

“He kisses her by force, she tries to get away, he holds her by the neck and everyone… laughs #tired,” the Green MP wrote on Twitter (in French).

Quoted by the Huffington Post France, Ms Thomas described the player’s actions as “frankly unpleasant”.

“If I hadn’t been live on air, I would have punched him.”

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Hamou, centre, bends to kiss Ms Thomas’s neck as she leans away

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He repeated the attempt several times during the interview

In a statement on Facebook on Tuesday, Hamou said: “I offer my deep apologies to Maly Thomas if she feels hurt or shocked by my attitude during her interview.

“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.

“I’m still learning every day from my mistakes to become a better tennis player and a better person.”

Eurosport welcomed his apology and offered its own to “any viewers who may have been affected” by its broadcast.

“We sincerely regret the incident that occurred during yesterday evening’s interview,” it said in a statement.

“The behaviour of the interviewee was highly inappropriate and we do not condone such conduct in any way.”

In January 2016, West Indies cricketer Chris Gayle drew a barrage of criticism after he asked a TV reporter for a date in a live interview.

  • What does the Chris Gayle row reveal?

He was later fined $7,200 (£4,900) by his club for “inappropriate conduct”.

It is not the first time Hamou, who has a career high singles ranking of 211, has caused controversy at this year’s French Open.

He walked out of an interview on Friday after a journalist posed a clumsy question. On Monday he also angrily berated an umpire on court, asking: “Why are you here?”

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