A French junior tennis player just struck a rival with a slap likely to be another one heard around the world.
Michael Kouame, the top seed in the Tennis Foundation Ghana Open, lashed an open hand across the face of Ghana’s Raphael Nii Ankrah after losing to him in the first round this week.
Video of the shocking exchange showed Kouame shaking Ankrah’s hand at the net, then slapping him with his free left hand, prompting gasps from the crowd in Accra, Ghana. Ankrah, apparently stunned, took several steps backward.
“No one expected that incident to happen,” Kenneth Kwesi Gibson, who shared the clip on Twitter, told HuffPost on Thursday.
Kouame, 15, issued an apology on Instagram Wednesday in French and English, noting he was “completely out of line.”
The player explained that he was frustrated by the “intense” match and that he was subjected to insults from the crowd ― some aimed at his mother, who was in attendance.
“However, that does not excuse my behavior. I would like to publicly apologize to Raphael,” Kouame wrote. “I was wrong and completely out of line. I accept any consequences as a result of my behavior from the ITF governing body.”
The International Tennis Federation told USA Today it was “reviewing the matter further under the code of conduct for the ITF World Tennis Tour Juniors to establish if any further action is required.”