The day after being controversially eliminated from the French Open for unintentionally hitting a ball girl with a ball, Miyu Kato, visibly emotional, had difficulty responding to inquiries about the event.
Kato and her partner, Aldila Sutjiadi, were disqualified from the doubles competition on Sunday when Kato accidentally hit a ball girl with her racquet while returning a ball to the back of the court after a point.
Kato, who was visibly upset on the court after being disqualified, returned to play on Monday and advanced to the semifinals of the mixed doubles tournament. She and her German partner Tim Puetz won in straight sets.
According to numerous reports, Kato became emotional on the court after winning the quarterfinal and remained visibly emotional during the press conference. She briefly left the room to collect herself before answering a question.
“I am relieved that the ball girl is alright, and I believe everyone, including Miyu, shares this sentiment. It was a scary incident,” Puetz shared with reporters upon returning to the room with Kato.
Miyu is deeply distressed by the situation. It was a truly unfortunate event for everyone involved, particularly for her and the other girl.
Kato responded with tears and a brief statement in Japanese, expressing that it was challenging for her to converse in English at the moment.
Although Puetz comprehended the reasoning behind the officials’ choice, he emphasized that there was no deliberate intention to harm the ball girl.
He stated that he comprehends she accidentally hit the ball girl and it was not done on purpose. He also does not believe it was out of anger.
“I believe everyone has seen the photos. Her actions were not intended to cause harm. However, it did result in the ball girl being hit.”
“Following that, two supervisors must attend the court, potentially without witnessing the incident themselves. Their perspective may only be of a distressed ball girl who was struck by a ball.”
“It is incredibly challenging to make a decision in that moment.”
Kato issued a tweet on Monday where she apologized to the ball girl, her doubles partner, and her supporters. She stated that the incident was not intentional.
She expressed gratitude to those who have continuously supported her. She has received a global surge of positive vibes, which has greatly lifted her mood. Her post received support from other players.
“I am currently competing in the semifinals of mixed doubles and I plan on using all of my positive energy to achieve success!”
As stated in the rule book for grand slam tournaments, players are not allowed to aggressively or angrily hit, kick, or throw a tennis ball while on the tournament grounds, unless it is in the normal course of playing a point during a match (including warm-up).
According to the rule book, the referee’s decision, in consultation with the grand slam chief of supervisors, is final and cannot be appealed in cases of default.
The rule book states that a player who is defaulted will forfeit all ranking points and prize money earned at the tournament.