MIYU KATO broke down in tears and walked out of her press conference after being defaulted from the French Open for hitting a ball girl with a tennis ball.
The Japanese tennis star was left distraught and locked herself away in a room in the bowels of Roland Garros in shame after being disqualified from the women’s doubles third round on Sunday.
Kato, 28, sent a ball cross-court after the point was over, but it struck the teenager’s left shoulder by mistake, leaving the kid visibly distressed and in tears.
Initially, she was given a warning by the chair umpire but after protests from opponents Marie Bouzkova and Sara Sorribes Tormo, Kato and Indonesian partner Aldila Sutjiadi were later booted out by the tournament referee.
Even though they won the opening two rounds in Paris, Kato will not receive any prize money or points on the WTA list.
Kato said: "I would like to sincerely apologise to the ball girl, my partner Aldila, my team and supporters because of the unfortunate mishap.
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"It was completely unintentional.
"As a result, I am penalised by Roland Garros by forfeiting my prize money and points.
"I appreciate all your continued support!"
French ace Alize Cornet called the pair’s disqualification an “insane decision” by officials during game five of the second set.
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British star Heather Watson said: "No apology needed.
"It’s plain to see it was an accident and nothing was done intentionally or out of anger.
“Simple as that. You didn’t deserve this harsh punishment.
Kato and German Tim Putz came into the press conference on Monday following her mixed-doubles quarter-final win.
But they had to exit the press room at Roland Garros first of all because the Japanese player was too upset to talk.
Putz said: "We spoke outside and I think it’s very hard for her to speak English now.
"I think you saw Miyu was distraught. Firstly, everybody was happy that the ball girl is okay.
"Besides that, I’m sure Miyu feels terrible about what happened. This was just very unfortunate for everyone, especially for her and the girl.
"She shouldn’t have been defaulted for that. A terrible situation.
"It would have been really bad if we had just been out of the tournament where then most people would agree that it wasn't the greatest disqualification of all time. You know, maybe not really merited.
"I understand she hit the ball girl. It was not intentional. I don’t think it was in anger. I think everybody saw the pictures.
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"It wasn’t anything malicious that she did. Nevertheless, it hit the ball girl."
Australian Nick Kyrgios, the Wimbledon finalist, had little sympathy for her situation, however, saying: "It’s not about the intent, if you hit a ball at a kid it’s a default."
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