Sara Bejlek, 16, of the Czech Republic, lost her first-round match in straight sets at the 2022 U.S. Open on Monday in Flushing, N.Y. Photo by Si.Robi/Wikimedia Commons
Aug. 31 (UPI) -- Sara Bejlek, the 16-year-old tennis player from the Czech Republic, shown in a viral video receiving pats on her derriere from her team at the U.S. Open, says the interactions with her coach and father won't happen again.
The pats occurred after she beat England's Heather Watson to qualify for the main draw of the Grand Slam on Friday in Flushing, N.Y. Video of the exchange surfaced Saturday on social media.
Beljek greeted the chair umpire after match point. She then walked toward her team. Bejlek first embraced her father, who tapped her backside several times. She then hugged her coach, who also placed his hand on her backside.
Several versions of the video were posted on social media. They received thousands of comments on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook, with many critics calling the actions "inappropriate" or "creepy."
"Of course, I saw the video," Bejlek told reporters Tuesday. "It was a spontaneous reaction of the entire team. We rejoiced. It may certainly seem inconvenient and uncomfortable to some, but we have already discussed it with the team. It won't happen again."
Russian Ludmilla Samsonova beat Bejlek in straight sets in her first-round match Monday. Bejlek failed to convert four break point opportunities.
Bejlek is the No. 209 player in the WTA singles rankings. She is the youngest player ranked inside the Top 250 and was the youngest player in the U.S. Open main draw.
The 2022 U.S. Open will run through Sept. 11 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
Carlos Alcaraz of Spain (L) and Casper Ruud of Norway stand with their trophies after the Men's Finals of the 2022 U.S. Open Tennis Championships at the USTA Billy Jean King National Tennis Center in Forest Hills, N.Y. on September 11, 2022. Alcaraz won the match 6-4, 2-6, 7-6, 6-3. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo