Pro-tennis player Sara Bejlek has spoken after the manner in which she and her father–along with her coach–celebrated her victory at the US Open raised concerns of sexual harassment.
After the 16-year-old Czech player defeated her British opponent Heather Watson at Friday's women's qualifying rounds, she headed over to her father Jaroslav Bejlek and her coach Jakub Kahoun for a congratulatory embrace.
In a viral clip, Bejlek was seen hugging her father–who firmly patted her backside repeatedly before giving his daughter a smooch on the lips.
Her coach also repeated the gesture of a job well done by continuously patting her derriere.
Some found the interaction disturbing and inappropriate.
One fan tweeted:
"Whether it was a coach or a family member, this is one creepy stuff.
"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."
The word "creepy" was a common descriptor being tossed around online.
While many social media users expressed their objections, there were others who accused them of sexualizing a possible culture-specific interaction.
Bejlek responded, telling iSport:
"I saw the video. It was a spontaneous reaction of the whole team. We rejoiced."
She said she and her team came up with a decision to prevent a similar reaction in the future.
"It may certainly seem inconvenient and uncomfortable to some, but we have already discussed it with the team."
"It won’t happen again."
"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."