By Peter Mikelbank
May 30, 2017 at 04:35 PM EDT

A French tennis player has been removed from Paris’ Roland Garros tournament after he aggressively kissed and fondled a journalist during a live interview.

Maxime Hamou, currently ranked 282nd in world standings, was banished by officials following a post-match interview where he aggressively pulled a female reporter to him, resisting her continual attempts to pull away — and at one point seeming to choke her.

In banning Hamou, 21, from the remainder of the tournament, the French Federation of Tennis, sanctioned his behavior as a “reprehensible act.”

During the incident, Eurosport reporter Maly Thomas approached Hamou, following his first-round defeat, while he’s posing with fans outside the stadium. Throwing a welcoming arm around her, he attempted to kiss her repeatedly in an unquestionably aggressive manner.


Attempting to shake him off, Thomas awkwardly continued her interview, though at one point Hamou pulls her into him using what appears to be a chokehold. The interview concludes with Hamou making one final stabbing attempt to kiss Thomas.

The pick-up interview, broadcast live on the Eurosports network’s post-match Advantage Leconte following the first day of matches, caused an overnight firestorm with social media criticizing both Hamou as well as the confused, embarrassing response from studio anchor Henri Leconte and network officials. Former cabinet minister Cecile Duflot took to Twitter to protest.

“He kisses her forcibly, she tries to get clear, he tightens around her neck and everyone… laughs.”
France’s newly appointed Minister of Sports, former Olympic fencer Laura Flessel, weighed in on Tuesday evening, remarking: “No, a live assault is not funny. Never let it happen, never trivialize such acts.”

On Tuesday, Thomas told France Info radio that Hamou had sent her an apology on Facebook. The incident, however, she told the radio network, remained a “frankly disagreeable” experience. Adding, “if it hadn’t been live, I’d have hit him with a right.”