Serena William’s French Open bid ended much earlier than expected with her third-round loss to 20-year-old Sofia Kenin, but the 23-time Grand Slam champion still managed to find herself in some drama at the tournament.
Following her loss to Kenin on Saturday, Williams made her way to the main interview room for the obligatory news conference. Dominic Thiem, a 25-year-old Austrian ranked No. 4 in the ATP men’s rankings, was in the main interview room at the time after his win over Pablo Cuevas per The Telegraph.
French Open officials reportedly asked Thiem and the German-speaking media to move to a smaller room to make way for Williams, which Thiem took as a slight and reacted to by storming out of the media center saying, “I’m not a junior player anymore.”
Given the opportunity to address the situation on Sunday, Thiem put the blame on Williams and compared her negatively to other tennis stars.
Via The Telegraph:
“I wasn’t angry or frustrated,” he said. “It’s the principle. It doesn’t matter if it is me who sits in there … every player has to wait. It also shows a bad personality in my opinion.
“I’m 100 percent sure [Roger] Federer or [Rafael] Nadal would never do something like that.”
Williams, who is currently ranked 10th in the world, didn’t sound thrilled with the situation either, reportedly telling an official, “You’re very rude. I’m cutting my interview short,” after waiting for a couple minutes.
When asked about the incident, third party Roger Federer reportedly blamed the French Open officials’ mismanagement of the interview room. Again, via The Telegraph:
“He’s a superstar,” said Federer of Thiem, who has already beaten him twice this season. “Something went wrong for this to happen. I think there is always a way to go that the one who is still in the tournament gets priority.
“There must have sure been a misunderstanding or maybe they should have kept Serena still in the locker room, not waiting here in the press centre.
“I don’t know exactly what happened. I understand Dominic’s frustration. For him it’s just about ‘How in the world did this happen?’”
The French Open’s top decision-makers apparently agreed with Federer, as tournament director Guy Forget apologized to Thiem after the incident, per ESPN.
Following his defeat of Gael Monfils on Monday, Thiem said he had already moved on from the incident, though he still indicated that he partially blamed Williams:
"She lost and everything," the Austrian said. "So I think it was a little bit mistake of her, mistake of the officials, but as I said, it's forgotten.
"It was a funny thing, strange thing, which made a big round in all the social networks, but now I don't put any attention on it anymore."
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