Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes
PARIS — A player at the French Open was allowed to continue her match — and ended up winning it — after she threw her racket and it bounced into the stands, the latest in a series of episodes involving professional tennis players who take their anger out on their equipment.
Irina-Camelia Begu, a 31-year-old Romanian who is ranked 63rd, had just dropped the opening point of a game while trailing 2-0 in the third set at Court 13 against 30th-seeded Ekaterina Alexandrova in the second round at Roland Garros.
Begu walked to the sideline and chucked her racket, which went off the red clay and flew right behind chair umpire Anis Ressaissi's seat, landing among spectators sitting courtside. There were gasps from fans and a child could be heard crying.
Play was delayed for five minutes while Ressaissi called for a Grand Slam supervisor, who came to the court and spoke to the official, then people in the crowd, and then both players.
Begu was warned for unsportsmanlike conduct but permitted to keep playing.
Later, a statement from tournament referee Remy Azemar emailed by the French tennis federation said the racket "brushed a young spectator," who "turned out to be OK." The statement added: "The Grand Slam supervisor spoke with the parents who were with the child; the parents confirmed that the child was fine and not injured."
There was no immediate information about any possible punishment for Begu.
She won the first point after the break in action and ended up claiming six of the last eight games of the match for a 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-4 comeback victory to reach the third round at the French Open for the first time since 2019.
"It's an embarrassing moment for me, so I don't want to talk too much about it. I just want to apologize," Begu said at her post-match news conference. "My whole career, I didn't do 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."
Asked whether she thought she would be defaulted — in other words, prevented from continuing to play and forced to forfeit the match — Begu responded: "You hit the clay with the racket, but you never expect (it) to fly that much. It was, as I said, an embarrassing moment for me, and I just want to end it and not talk about it."
When a reporter then wanted to know what the chair umpire or supervisor said to her, Begu said: "Again, can we move on? Because I will answer the same thing: I'm just saying, 'I'm sorry,' and that's it."
In the French Open's first round, the seventh-seeded man, Andrey Rublev, reacted to losing the first set of an eventual victory by using his racket to smack a ball that ricocheted off the base of the chair umpire's stand. The ball flew near one of the court groomers smoothing out the clay between sets.
Earlier this season, Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Alexander Zverev was put on probation for one year by the men's ATP tour for violently hitting the chair umpire's stand repeatedly with his racket following a loss in doubles at the Mexico Open in February. He also was fined $40,000 and forfeited more than $30,000 in prize money, along with all of the rankings points he earned at that tournament.
At the 2020 U.S. Open, No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic was defaulted when he inadvertently hit a line judge in the throat with a tennis ball after dropping a game in his fourth-round match.
As he walked to the sideline for a changeover, trailing Pablo Carreño Busta 6-5 in the first set, Djokovic smacked a ball behind him. The ball flew right at the line judge, who dropped to her knees at the back of the court and reached for her neck.