Dominic Thiem's comments reportedly occurred after he had to switch to a smaller interview room to accommodate Serena Williams

By Helen Murphy
June 04, 2019 09:44 AM

Austrian tennis player Dominic Thiem said Serena Williams has a “bad personality” after he reportedly had to switch interview rooms to accommodate the star athlete at the French Open.

Thiem, 25, was in the middle of his post-match news conference on Saturday when he said he was told he needed to move so that Williams, who had just lost in a surprising upset, could give her press conference in the room.

“Every player has to wait. It shows a bad personality, in my opinion,” Thiem said, according to the BBC.

According to French newspaper L’Equipe, translated by the BBC, Williams, 37, was eager to leave the tournament after her defeat, saw Thiem and reportedly said, “put me in another room, smaller, but now.” Instead of placing her in a smaller room, tournament officials decided to move Thiem and give Williams the larger interview space.

“What the hell?” Thiem reportedly said after he had to move rooms. “But it’s a joke, really. What’s the point of that, that I have to leave the room because she’s coming?”

Serena Williams; Dominic Thiem
Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty; Stephen Bartholomew/IPS/Shutterstock
Serena Williams
Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty

“I wasn’t angry or frustrated,” he later told Eurosport. “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,” Thiem added, referencing two other tennis greats.

Tournament director Guy Forget has since apologized to Thiem, the BBC reported. The French Open did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment, nor did a rep for Williams.

Some were quick to defend Williams, including Whoopi Goldberg on The View. Said Goldberg of Thiem, “You may be big in the tennis world but this a big deal that Serena lost this early,” according to Yahoo.

On Saturday, Williams lost in the third round of the French Open, marking her earliest loss at a major tournament in five years. She was defeated by American player Sofia Kenin, 20.

Serena Williams and Sofia Kenin
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

“She played really well,” Williams said of Kenin after the match, according to ESPN. “I feel like she, in that first set in particular, hit pretty much inches from the line. I hadn’t played anyone like that in a long time… She just played, literally, unbelievable. She really went out there today and did great.”

On Sunday, the tennis legend shared an empowering, inspirational message to Instagram, referencing her loss.

“Yesterday was not my day. But it’s about getting up time and time again after you fall,” Williams wrote. “Here’s to a multitude of tomorrows.”