Accidental Pelting of Ball Girl Costs Player $23K

Miyu Kato also got her doubles team disqualified at French Open
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 5, 2023 12:21 AM CDT
Updated Jun 6, 2023 12:15 PM CDT
UPDATE Jun 6, 2023 12:15 PM CDT

A pro tennis player's errant swat of a ball continues to cost her. Japan's Miyu Kato must forfeit all of the approximately $23,000 she earned in the French Open because she accidentally hit a ball girl in the neck with a ball, reports the AP. Kato and her doubles partner were disqualified after the unusual incident over the weekend, and the monetary penalty was announced Tuesday. Kato also must forfeit the rankings points she accrued in the tournament. One silver lining: She is allowed to compete in mixed doubles, and will do so Thursday. The ball girl was shaken up but not seriously hurt.

Jun 5, 2023 12:21 AM CDT

A doubles pair was disqualified at the French Open on Sunday in a moment that proved to be controversial. Aldila Sutjiadi and Miyu Kato were playing against Marie Bouzkova and Sara Sorribes Tormo when, after a point, Kato hit the ball to the back of the court, where it accidentally hit a ballgirl. The Guardian reports that while Kato and Sutjiadi were initially given a warning, their opponents appeared to lobby for a harsher punishment by pointing out to the umpire that the ballgirl was in tears over the incident. The supervisor was called to the court and it was ultimately announced that the pair had been defaulted, or disqualified, CNN reports.

Many on social media criticized the decision; the grand slam rule book states that 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)," but, as tennis journalist Ben Rothenberg wrote on Twitter, "Ball not hit in anger whatsoever, just hit across to ball girl to keep the match flowing because it was the other team’s turn to serve. Ball girl had hands full, reacted late." Bleacher Report notes the rule can be interpreted to include hitting a ball recklessly. Others on social media criticized the opponents' apparent attempts to lobby for Kato and Sutjiadi to be disqualified.

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"Obviously, it's very unfortunate overall," Bouzkova said when asked about the incident afterward, per "Sara and I, we've never been in this kind of situation, so we were kind of shaken up by this as well. It's just a tough situation for everyone. But it's something that, I guess, has to be taken by the rules as it is, even though it's very unfortunate for them." Kato addressed the incident later on Twitter: "I would like to sincerely apologize to the Ball Girl, my partner Aldila&Team, & my supporters because of today's unfortunate mishap. It was completely unintentional." (More tennis stories.)

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