Irina-Camelia Begu has apologized after being hit with a code violation following an incident where her racquet bounced off the stands during her second-round win over Ekaterina Alexandrova at Roland Garros.
Alexandrova ended up losing the match and has since called for a change in the rules of tennis to prevent it from happening again.
The incident happened in the third game of the third set, with Alexandrova leading 2-0 and 15-0 on her own serve. Begu was clearly frustrated with her performance and walked to her chair, throwing the racquet to the floor. The racket bounced through the crowd, causing a child to scream and burst into tears.
The French Tennis Federation then issued a statement on Thursday indicating that the child had been “grazed” by the racket and, after an initial fright, had not been injured.
There was a break in the proceedings when referee Anis Ressaissi checked on the child while also calling a supervisor. After consultation between the supervisor and the referee, Begu was assessed a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct.
The game continued and she pushed Alexandrova away. The incident angered Alexandrova, who hit a tennis ball above the stands at the next substitution.
“So can I do that too?” Alexandrova shouted at the referee.
She also received a code violation.
Begu, 31, ended up winning 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-4. After the game, she talked and took pictures with the child.
“Well, this is an embarrassing moment for me. I just want to apologize,” Begu said. “My whole career I haven’t done something like this, and I feel really bad and sorry. So I’m just going to say again, sorry for the incident and, yeah, it was just an embarrassing moment for me.
“…It was a tough moment because I didn’t want to hit that racquet, you know. It was — you know, you hit clay with the racquet, but you never expect [it] steal so much. It was, like I said, an embarrassing moment for me, and I just want to get it over with and not talk about it.”
Alexandrova took to her Instagram account later Thursday and questioned the decision not to default on Begu.
“So disappointed to leave RG like this, I was trying to do my best but it seems the rules were against me today,” Alexandrova wrote. “That shouldn’t happen. I hope after today’s game the rules will be improved for everyone’s safety. We are responsible for our racket.”
Begu, the world No. 63, will now face Frenchwoman Leolia Jeanjean in the third round of Roland Garros.
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