PARIS: Austrian star Dominic Thiem was left fuming on Saturday after apparently being kicked out of his own Roland Garros media conference so that a defeated Serena Williams could be accommodated instead.
Thiem, the fourth seed in the men’s event and the 2018 runner-up, was conducting his post-match press obligations after reaching the last 16.
However, he was then informed that the main interview room was needed by American superstar Williams who had just suffered a third round loss to Sofia Kenin.
It was the 23-time Grand Slam title winner’s earliest exit at a Slam in almost five years and she was eager to be away from the tournament site as quickly as possible.
“It’s a joke,” said 25-year-old Thiem to media officers after being told he should finish his interviews in a smaller room.
“I have to leave the room because she’s coming. What the hell, I don’t care. I can also do whatever I want.”
There was no indication as to who had decided to shift Thiem mid-flow.
However, French sports daily L’Equipe claimed that Williams had no preference over where she carried out her press conference.
“Put me in another room, a smaller one, but now,” she was reported to have said.
With Williams reportedly becoming increasingly impatient, officials looked to rescue the situation by moving Thiem to another room.
“That’s really impolite,” she was heard to say.
Thiem had defeated Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 while 23-time Major winner Williams was stunned 6-2, 7-5 by Kenin.
There was a backlash on social media over the incident.
“Wait your turn for the press room like everyone else,” tweeted former Australian player Sam Groth.
“Thiem, still in the draw having won, would have agreed to a press time and has a round of 16 match to prepare for, Serena just has her jet on the tarmac!”