Angry tennis fans have accused the sport of shooting itself in the foot by taking unnecessary action over one of the best moments from Sunday’s French Open men’s final.
Novak Djokovic took another step towards cementing his GOAT status with an incredible five set win over Stefanos Tsitsipas to claim Grand Slam title No. 19. But the real highlight was a young fan’s reaction when the Serb gave him his racket after the match.
The boy was overwhelmed with emotion, absolutely losing it as the cameras zoomed in.
“He was in my ear the entire match, basically, especially when I was two-sets-to-love down,” Djokovic said at his post-match press conference. “He was encouraging me, he was actually giving me tactics as well.
“He was coaching me, literally, and I found that very cute and very nice. To give the racket to the best person was him, after the match, that was my gratitude to him sticking with me and supporting me.”
Footage of the exchange quickly went viral, receiving millions of views on social media. However, the French Tennis Federation later pulled down the video from accounts who had shared it, citing a copyright infringement.
NFL star JJ Watt was one of many who share the video, posting it to his 5.6 million followers, but his was also removed.
The decision has sparked anger within tennis circles, with many questioning why something that shows the best of what the sport has to offer would be erased.
Tennis analyst Matthew Willis tweeted: “These are accredited sports journalists/media trying to share an interesting thing that happened. How in the absolute f*** is this good for the sport or harmful for the copyright holder?”
Commentator Jose Morgado said the “FFT is quite disgraceful in that department,” calling the situation “unreal.”
French tennis journalist Carole Bouchard wrote: “This is insane. Don’t take down that video! What the hell. This was not a moment to flex tv rights! Don’t shoot that sport in the foot when it’s spreading beyond its borders. Like, Read The Room!”
Sports business reporter Darren Rovell added: “Congratulations to the French Tennis Federation and/or NBC, who requested that my video of the boy getting Djokovic’s racket be taken down. The video got 5.5 million views, more than any highlight from any match. Great for a struggling sport. But you guys protect your rights!”
The boy’s mom shared photos on Instagram of the adorable moment, saying it was “without doubt the best moment of Roland Garros and [her] son’s life.”
“A moment which will seriously stay in the memory forever,” she added, calling Djokovic a “true champion.”
Meanwhile, Djokovic has set his sights on the Golden Grand Slam, winning all four majors and the Olympic title, insisting “everything is possible.”
His win over Tsitsipas allowed him to become the first man in the Open era, and only third in history, to claim all four Grand Slam titles on multiple occasions. Now he has targeted being the third man to complete a calendar Grand Slam after Don Budge in 1937 and Rod Laver in 1962 and 1969.
“Everything is possible. Definitely in my case I can say that what I’ve been through in my career, in my life, this journey has been terrific so far,” said Djokovic.
“I’ve achieved some things that a lot of people thought it would be not possible for me to achieve.
“So everything is possible, and I did put myself in a good position to go for the Golden Slam.”
The Golden Slam has never been achieved by a man while, in the women’s game, only Steffi Graf has swept all four majors and Olympic gold in the same year in 1988.