“The umpire told me I wouldn’t have been disqualified if the ballkid I hit was a boy” – interview with Miyu Kato

Miyu Kato
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BERLIN – Paris was a roller coaster of emotions for Miyu Kato. Sadness, anger and helplessness thanks to an unfair sanction; calm, consolation and joy for a title won. “My mind was very bad. After the disqualification I seriously thought about going home to Japan,” she says in an interview with CLAY.

Kato was disqualified during the third round of the Roland Garros women’s doubles for unintentionally hitting a ball to a young ballgirl: “I just passed the ball to the ballkids for my opponents to serve,” explains Kato in Germany, where she played the WTA Berlin.

“The umpire and the supervisor talked to me afterwards and said, ‘If the ballkid was a boy, it would have been ok.’ They also explained to me that since the girl cried for more than 15 minutes they had to make a decision, because if she had stopped after five minutes, everything would have been allright; or if the ball had hit her legs or arms, everything would have been okay. But no, because it was in the neck it was different,” she tells CLAY at a leisurely pace, with the English he has at her disposal.

“I spent several hours in the locker room, I didn’t want to check social media, I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I had to go to doping control, so I waited there alone,” she says.

Her rivals Sara Sorribes Tormo and Marie Bouzková, who did not see Kato’s action, protested to the umpire when they saw that the girl was crying. The chair umpire proceeded to apply the disqualification. Miyu Kato burst into tears on the shoulders of her Indonesian teammate Aldila Sutjiadi.

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Miyu Kato cries next to her doubles partner Aldila Sutjiadi after being disqualified in Roland Garros // KYODO

Despite the frustration and the desire to return home, there was no time to search for airplane tickets. She was given permission to continue in the mixed doubles, and with Germany’s Tim Puetz she got her revenge by winning the trophy: “Nothing was fun until the day of the finals. Luckily I received a lot of encouraging messages, positive messages. The players, the coaches, everyone was very supportive.”

And her opponents? “Bouzková sent me a message, but I didn’t reply,” she says accompanied by a spontaneous laugh. She pauses to remember what the Czech’s text said. She’d better look in her phone. “Sorry about today. Hope you and your partner are ok,” the message reads.

From Sorribes, nothing at all. She defended herself at a press conference from the critics: “We have not done anything. It was the supervisor’s decision. The rule is the rule. We only cared about what happened to the girl.”

Kato has an opinion on the performance of her rivals: “I was disappointed.” She adds that with Bouzková she has a cordial relationship, that when they played in Charleston this year, the Czech was friendly.

The big problem for the Japanese was that the French Tennis Federation took her earnings away. 240 ranking points and 21,500 euros in prize money. Kato appealed the punishment, but received a slam in the face.

“Since I couldn’t have the Roland Garros points, I have to win at Wimbledon. Although I like clay, not grass,” she tells CLAY. For the mixed doubles, she has no one to play with yet, as Puetz doesn’t want to play on grass: “I’m friends with (Austin) Krajicek, so maybe one day we’ll play together.”

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And what if she calls her compatriot Kei Nishikori, already back in competitions after a long injury?

“I already tried many times. But Kei has told me no.”

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4 Comments to ““The umpire told me I wouldn’t have been disqualified if the ballkid I hit was a boy” – interview with Miyu Kato”

  • Rolly September

    Thanks a lot for your very interesting article!
    I guess it is the first interview with Miyu Kato after that accident in Paris. Even in Japan where the disqualification of Miyu from the women’s doubles has been a big issue there is still no article based with the interview with her.

    Nice to know what she was told by the umpire (the referee?) and the supervisor. It must be the reason for her disqualification. I find it very sad that the ball kid kept crying for more than 15 minutes.
    Without the video-check – so is the rule in the Tennis world – French Open must decide Miyu hit the ball so hard and dangerously. That’s why the ball girl cried for more than 15 minutes.
    However almost everyone who watched the video thinks her disqualification is not justified.

    Hope Miyu will play besides Tim again. It must be a Japanese dream.

  • Rolly September

    Hello again!

    Thanks for your kind answer!

    You’ve got my message again, because I’d like to tell you that your interview with Miyu Kato arose controversy in Japan.
    In Japan AS WELL.

    You must have already known how the world react to “the” interview. We must not take the words of the referee and the supervisor directly (“If the ballkid was a boy” “since the girl cried for more than 15 minutes”). As a lawyer I understand what they mean by their explanation.

    A specific problem in Japan is following: A Spanish and a Czech media published articles based on your interview. Sorry to say that they are interpreted by some Japanese media WRONG. The Japanese journalists wrote some “fake news” saying the newspapers from the opponents of Miyu (ES & CZ) are for the opponents and justified their claim to the chair umpire (request for disqualification of Miyu). Many Japanese readers are furious at the Spanish and a Czech media. However, their opinions cannot be justified, because they are based on the “fake news”.

    I don’t know if some Japanese media keep on publishing wrong articles. So terrible!!!

    Hope you stay cool and enjoy the nice strawberry season in Europe!


    • Sebastián Varela

      Maybe we can suggest those people to read CLAY, not other media talking about the interiew, hehe. Thanks. We will definetly enjoy Strawberries and Cream.

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