French Tennis Player Criticized for Asking Ball Girl to Peel Banana for Him at Australian Open
"I find incredible how this situation got out of control on social media without people knowing what really happened on court," said Elliot Benchetrit of the viral moment
One athlete recently sparked controversy at the Australian Open for his unusual request to one of the ball girls.
The incident came during a snack break in a qualifying round of the tennis tournament. When approached by an attentive ball girl who offered him a banana, French player Elliot Benchetrit asked her to peel the fruit for him.
Benchetrit, 21, appeared to explain that he was unable to peel the banana. After the umpire shot down the request, the athlete tried to open the food with his teeth.
The exchange caught the attention of the internet when tennis reporter Alex Theodoridis shared a clip of the moment on Twitter.
“So this is the moment where Elliot Benchetrit asks the ballkid to peel his banana. I’m glad the umpire (John Blom) stepped in and told him off,” Theodoridis wrote with the video.
Other Twitter users did not take kindly to the request, with one person tweeting: “Imagine being a ballboy and this tennis player treat you as if you’re their on court personal assistant….”
“… She’s not a servant,” another user wrote. “She’s there to do a job. He looked shocked when he was told to do it himself. Whattttt, peel it myself?!”
Benchetrit went on to beat Dmitry Popko that day, and the player later addressed the social media backlash to the moment.
“At 6-5 in the final set, during the changeover, I asked the ball girl to peel the banana for me as I had put some cream on my hands in order not to sweat,” he said, per CNN. “She had done it once before at the beginning of the match.”
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He continued: “But the second time, the chair umpire stepped in and told me that the ball girl was not my slave and I had to peel the banana myself.”
Benchetrit, who lost to Japan’s Yuichi Sugita on Tuesday, went on to say that he was surprised that the moment went viral.
“I could not believe that the umpire said that and I find incredible how this situation got out of control on social media without people knowing what really happened on court.”