16-year-old tennis star responds to outrage over father's 'inappropriate' celebrations
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A young tennis star has spoken out after her team was criticised for their 'inappropriate' celebrations after making it through to the US Open.
Sara Bejlek produced an impressive performance as she defeated British star Heather Watson in the qualifying round of the tournament.
It's the first time the 16-year-old has made it into a Grand Slam, and she was over the moon with her victory.
Footage from the post-match celebrations showed the Czech teenager going over to her dad and her coach, giving them both a big hug.
However, fans took issue when her father gave her a kiss on the lips and both men appeared to pat her numerous times on her backside.
Slamming the incident, one user said: "There's absolutely no reason to touch a 16yo girl on her butt like that. It's beyond inappropriate. As the video progressed it got worse and worse. And that's not because I see her as 'sexual object' or am projecting as some in comments and quotes are alluding."
Another chipped in: "Yeah, I’m sorry, I don’t care if it’s her dad, dad/coach, relative etc. you shouldn’t be doing this by patting her on the behind numerous times. I don’t want to hear if they do it 'there'. They travel enough probably to know it’s not viewed as appropriate. She’s 16!!! Not 6!"
"What the hell?? I need more people to see this and talk about his because they literally caught them in 4K how is this not being talked about???" put a third.
Creepy coaches #WTA #USOpen #Bejlek— Eggy 🥚 (@TheBoiledEgg) August 27, 2022
She’s 16 😳😱 pic.twitter.com/8ORvrHTVkX
While another added: "'Creepy' is one way to describe it, but 'criminal' is more accurate. (And those who think it’s not so bad because it’s her father? That’s just as disturbing.) Needs to be reported."
But the world number 209 has now come out to comment on the celebrations and the criticism her team have received for their behaviour.
Speaking to isport, Bejlek said she was aware of the comments online, and that she and her dad had discussed it at length.
She told the outlet: "Of course, I saw the video. It was a spontaneous reaction of the whole 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."
When asked if the outrage had impacted her preparations for her first round match against Ludmilla Samsonova or her relationship with her father, Bejlek said no way.
She added: "Not at all. Dad is my dad and always will be. And I've known the coach since I was eight years old. He tapes me, he massages me.
"If something similar happened in the Czech Republic, no one would deal with it. But since we are in America, everyone comments on it. But as I say, we talked and it won't happen again."