French Open 2023: Miyu Kato wins maiden grand slam with Tim Puetz in mixed doubles

After winning her maiden Grand Slam title, Kato also slammed the controversial decision after she and her partner Aldila Sutjidi were disqualified when the former unintentionally hit a ball girl.

The incident happened during their third-round women’s doubles game on Sunday (June 4) at Court 14 against Marie Bouzkova and Sara Sorribes Tormo. Kato’s ball hit a ball girl on the other end of the court.

The entire episode unexpectedly became one of the biggest stories of the tournament, with players and coaches past and present criticising the decision as too harsh. French Open Ball Girl Controversy: Miyu Kato returns to action, gets emotional after mixed doubles win

Kato was at least allowed to continue in the mixed with German partner Tim Puetz, and they ensured a happy ending to the tournament by defeating Bianca Andreescu and Michael Venus 4-6 6-4 (10-6) in the final. It was the maiden grand slam win for both the players.

Kato had been too upset to speak about the disqualification in English but prepared a speech to read out on the court. Fighting back her tears after win, the 28-year-old said: “It has been really challenging mentally for me the past few days due to the unjust disqualification from the women’s doubles.

“I want to thank the players and coaches for all the heartfelt support. I was able to use all the positive energy to move forward so I could be here today… It was unfortunate that we were disqualified but I’m doing my best so we can return one day and claim the women’s doubles final. Hopefully, the ball girl is OK.

“Lastly, to Roland Garros, it is unfortunate for the disqualification situation but I’m looking forward to a positive result of my appeal so I can claim my points and prize money.”

Being defaulted from a tournament normally means forfeiting the ranking points and prize money you have earned but Kato is hoping the nature of the offence means that will be overturned.

The umpire initially only gave the Japanese player a warning but, with Bouzkova and Sorribes Tormo drawing attention to the crying ball girl, the supervisor and referee were called to the court and eventually decided a default was merited.

Neither had seen the incident and Kato was unhappy with Bouzkova and Sorribes Tormo’s role, saying in Japanese: “What I can’t swallow is that at first the chair umpire gave me warning, but then our opponents said that he had made a mistake.

“The opponent made a big appeal, and then the referee came down and overturned the decision. My opponent probably didn’t see where I hit her.”

Kato thanked Puetz for being a key support, and the German was delighted to help her create more positive memories of the tournament.

“Miyu, unbelievable what has happened the last 10 days,” he said. “I hope this helps you. I’m very happy to win even without all the drama.

“I hope this is somewhat redemption with everything that has happened. We saw you get so much support from everywhere and I think it’s well deserved.”

(With inputs from Stats Perform)

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