Irina-Camelia Begu has apologized after she was hit with a code violation following an incident where her racket bounced into the stands during her second-round win over Ekaterina Alexandrova at the French Open.
Alexandrova ended up losing the match and has since called for a change in the rules of tennis to discourage this from happening again.
The incident happened in the third game of the third set, with Alexandrova up 2-0 and 15-0 on her own serve. Begu was clearly frustrated at her performance and walked over to her chair, throwing the racket against the ground. The racket bounced up and into the crowd, causing a child to cry out and burst into tears.
The French Tennis Federation later issued a statement Thursday saying the child was “brushed” by the racket and, after an initial scare, was uninjured.
There was a pause in proceedings as umpire Anis Ressaissi checked on the child while also calling a supervisor. After consultation between the supervisor and the umpire, Begu was given a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct.
The game continued, and she broke Alexandrova back. The incident angered Alexandrova, who hit a tennis ball over the stands during the next changeover.
“So I can do that too?” Alexandrova shouted at the umpire.
She also was given a code violation.
Begu, 31, ended up winning 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-4. After the match, she spoke to and took photographs with the child.
“Well, it’s an embarrassing moment for me. I just want to apologize,” Begu said. “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 a difficult moment because I didn’t want to hit that racket, you know. It was — you know, you hit the clay with the racket, but you never expect [it] 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.”
Alexandrova took to her Instagram account later Thursday and questioned the decision not to default Begu.
“So disappointed to leave RG like that, I was trying to do my best, but seems like the rules were against me today,” Alexandrova wrote. “This shouldn’t be happening. I hope after today’s match rules will be improved for everyone’s safety. We are responsible for our racket.”
Begu, the world No. 63, will now face France’s Leolia Jeanjean in the third round at Roland Garros.