French tennis player sorry for Will Smith-style slap of rival

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Apr 07 2022 03:42 AM

Smith stunned the recent Oscars ceremony in Los Angeles when he mounted the stage and slapped Chris Rock across the face. EPA-EFE
Smith stunned the recent Oscars ceremony in Los Angeles when he mounted the stage and slapped Chris Rock across the face. EPA-EFE

A French junior tennis player on Wednesday apologised for delivering a Will Smith Oscars-style slap at an opponent but said his anger was sparked by insults from the crowd.

Michael Kouame, 15, slapped Raphael Nii Ankrah across the face at a tournament in Accra in Ghana as the two teenagers met at the net to exchange the customary post-match handshakes on Monday.

Kouame, who lost the tie in three sets, said on social media his outburst occurred "after an extremely frustrating and difficult match" during which he said he was insulted by the crowd who supported the local player. 

"I sincerely regret my actions. During the match, I was repeatedly verbally abused by many people in the crowd, including insults against my mother, but that does not excuse my behavior," he said. 

He also apologized to his opponent.

"I accept all the consequences from the International Tennis Federation (ITF)," he added.

"I will use this time to see how I can better handle these kinds of situations in the future, in a way that reflects my true personality." 

The ITF said later Wednesday that a review of the incident has been launched.

"We are reviewing the incident under the ITF World Tennis Juniors Circuit Code of Conduct to establish whether any action is necessary," the ITF told AFP.

American actor Will Smith stunned the recent Oscars ceremony in Los Angeles when he mounted the stage and slapped Chris Rock across the face after the comic made a joke about his wife's closely cropped head.