A women’s doubles pair was disqualified from the French Open after one player hit a ball girl with a ball and left her in tears.
Japan’s Miyu Kato fired a cross-court shot towards the ball girl between points, striking her on the shoulder. With the young girl distressed, Kato was initially given a warning by the umpire.
However, a protest by opponents Marie Bouzkova and Sara Sorribes Tormo led to match being abandoned with Kato and her Indonesian partner Aldila Sutjiadi disqualified.
Kato attempted to console the ball girl and apologised before the Japanese-Indonesian pair pleaded with officials that it wasn’t a deliberate act. The ball girl was guided off court by officials.
When the umpire Alexandre Juge confirmed the disqualification, Kato herself broke down in tears.
A ball girl was left in tears at the French Open after being stuck on the shoulder by a shot by Japan’s Miyu Kato between points – leading to Kato and her partner being disqualified
The ball can be seen just to the left of the court flying towards the ball girl in the bottom left
The ball struck the ball girl (bottom left) as the players prepared themselves between points
During the discussions, one official compared the incident to Novak Djokovic’s disqualification from the 2020 US Open after hitting a line judge in the throat with the ball.
‘If you hit someone and they’re injured, then you’re responsible for that action,’ the official said. ‘Even if you don’t mean it, you’re still responsible for that action.’
Czech Bouzkova and Spaniard Sorribes won the first set 7-6 (7/1) but were a break down at 3-1 to Kato and Sutjiadi in the second.
There were jeers from the crowd as the 16th seeds were disqualified with the pair applauded off the court. They will forfeit all prize money earned at Roland Garros and any ranking points gained.
Bouzkova explained their protest afterwards: ‘It’s difficult. The girl was crying for 15 minutes.
‘I think the warning first happened because he [the umpire] didn’t see she was crying and she was in that kind of pain.
‘We told him he should look more into because the girl was crying and the ball went directly at her, it wasn’t kind of a slower ball. We told them [Kato and Sutjiadi] it’s very unfortunate.’
Kato went over to console the youngster but to no avail as they were disqualified
A Roland Garros official explains the rules to Kato and partner Aldila Sutjiadi before the umpire confirmed the end of the match
It was then Kato who needed to be comforted by her doubles partner after the default
According to the grand slam rule book, players ‘shall not violently, dangerously or with anger hit, kick or throw a tennis ball within the precincts of the tournament site except in the reasonable pursuit of a point during a match (including warm-up).
‘In all cases of default, the decision of the referee in consultation with the grand slam chief of supervisors shall be final and unappealable.’
Men’s world No 1 Djokovic was kicked out of the 2020 US Open after he angrily swiped away a ball that struck female line judge Laura Clark in the throat.
Djokovic initially pleaded that Clark wasn’t seriously hurt but eventually had to default and later apologised for ‘causing her such stress’, saying his swipe was ‘so unintended, so wrong.’
Tim Henman, who would go on to become British No 1, was disqualified from the Wimbledon doubles in 1995 for a similar incident with a wayward ball.
Henman was playing alongside Jeremy Bates when he reacted angrily to netting a volley by hitting the ball, which stuck a ball girl in the ear.
The umpire decided to end the game right away, with opponents Henrik Holm and Jeff Tarango advancing .
Novak Djokovic checks on the line judge he accidentally hit in the throat with a ball at the 2020 US Open, leading to his disqualification
The line judge, Laura Clark, was clutching her throat after she was hit by Djokovic’s whack