Tennis world in shock over 'disgraceful' incident at French Open

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Irina-Camelia Begu, pictured here leaving a young fan in tears after throwing her racquet into the crowd.
Irina-Camelia Begu left a young fan in tears after throwing her racquet into the crowd. Image: Getty

Controversy erupted at the French Open on Thursday after Romanian player Irina-Camelia Begu inadvertently flung her racquet into the crowd in frustration and left a little boy in tears.

Begu had just gone down a break in the deciding third set against 30th seed Ekaterina Alexandrova when she threw her racquet and watched in horror as it bounced into the crowd.

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Begu didn't throw the racquet particularly hard but it bounced off the clay and into the first few rows of the stands.

The racquet reportedly didn't hit the young boy but left him very shaken as he screamed and cried while being comforted by his parents.

The chair umpire immediately called for the tournament supervisor and after a lengthy discussion it was decided that Begu would not be defaulted and was allowed to continue.

The Romanian was hit with a code violation, but many thought she should have been disqualified.

Alexandrova was among those left fuming, receiving a code violation of her own soon after when she launched a ball out of the court entirely, saying "So I can do that too?” before smashing her racquet onto her bag.

Novak Djokovic was infamously defaulted at the US Open in 2020 when he accidentally hit a line judge in the neck with a ball that he had hit in anger after a point.

Russian star Andrey Rublev was also lucky not to be defaulted in the opening round at Roland Garros when a ball he hit in anger knocked a groundsman's hat off.

To her credit, Begu was very apologetic to the young fan and gave him a hug after the match while also posing for some photos.

"It's an embarrassing moment for me, so I don't want to talk too much about it," Begu said after the match, which she came back to win 6-7 (3) 6-3 6-4.

Irina-Camelia Begu, pictured here checking on the boy after the ugly incident at the French Open.
Irina-Camelia Begu checks on the boy after the ugly incident at the French Open. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

"I just want to apologise. 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.

"It was, you know, you hit the clay with the racquet, but you never expect to fly that much.

"It was, as I said, embarrassing moment for me and I just want to end it and not talk about it and apologise again."

When asked by a reporter 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.”

Tennis world up in arms over 'disgraceful' incident

Despite the apology, tennis fans and pundits were fuming that Begu wasn't disqualified, taking to social media to express their anger.

Alexandrova wrote on social media: "So disappointed to leave Roland Garros like that, I was trying to do my best, but seems like the rules were against me today.

"This shouldn’t be happening. I hope after today’s match rules will be improved for everyone’s safety. We are responsible for our racquet."

Aussie great Rennae Stubbs tweeted: "Seeing the Begu incident and Rublev incident from the other day, tennis officials really need to step up their game.

"I think both should have been defaults. We MUST start making players accountable for stupid decisions and those were both stupid decision and could have been a lot worse."

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