Austrian world No.4 Dominic Thiem, Kristina Mladenovic’s boyfriend, was forced to leave his press conference early to give room to Serena Williams on Saturday at the French Open. The incident frustrated Thiem and legendary Rogers Federer publicly took the side of his fellow ATP player.
After Williams suffered her earliest Grand Slam exit since 2014, losing to youngster Sofia Kenin in the third round, the 23-time major champion urged tournament staff to start her press conference right away, so Thiem was forced to end his presser and make way for his WTA colleague.
Tournament director Guy Forget has apologized to Thiem, but the 25-year-old couldn’t help himself being irritated by Williams’ behavior:
Every player has to wait. It shows a bad personality, in my opinion.
As L’Equipe explains, Williams said “Put me in another room, smaller, but now”. Since the adjoining rooms were also occupied and the annoyed Williams started leaving the media center, the officials decided in a hurry to relocate Thiem’s press conference to a nearby room where TV interviews were about to finish. Thiem couldn’t believe what was happening:
What the hell? But it’s a joke, really. What’s the point of that, that I have to leave the room because she’s coming.
A day later, Thiem further commented on the incident:
I wasn’t angry or frustrated. Maybe for a couple of minutes or so. It is just the principle. It doesn’t matter if it is me who sits in there, even if a junior is in there. I am 100% sure Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal would never do something like that.
Federer backed up Thiem’s principles, saying that the usual practice is that players who had won their match have priority over those exiting the tournament:
I don’t know what went wrong but something went wrong for this to happen. If I would have lost today against Leonardo Mayer, I would let him go first or decide when he wants to go to press as he’s got a next match. My next match is far, far away. So that’s just the way you go about it. There must have been a misunderstanding, or maybe they should have kept Serena still in the locker room, not waiting here in the press center.
The fourth-seeded Thiem beat Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas in the third round on the day of the news conference and is awaiting his Monday’s encounter with France’s 14th seed Gael Monfils, another boyfriend of a WTA star 😉. (source: BBC)