After receiving criticism for her “inappropriate” celebration with her father after qualifying for the US Open, tennis pro Sara Bejlek has answered.
A video of the 16-year-old athlete celebrating her triumph over rival Heather Watson went viral on social media on Monday, August 28.
Bejlek shakes hands with Watson in the video before going to the courtside to celebrate with her father, Jaroslav Bejlek, and her coach, Jakub Kahoun.
Then it seems that Bejlek’s father kisses her on the mouth and pats her on the back. She then advances on her coach, who imitates her movement and pats her behind.
Watch the video here:
— Eggy 🥚 (@TheBoiledEgg) August 27, 2022
A significant portion of internet watchers found the celebration approach to be offensive, and many users now feel uneasy.
One user wrote: “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.”
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. https://t.co/8OjAXXCBI4
— NoFirstName claycourtdal (@SMSTNS) August 27, 2022
“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. https://t.co/IcbytVaDTr
— Diane Elayne Dees (@WomenWhoServe) August 28, 2022
Another commented: “‘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.”
A third said: “Even if her dad and coach are not creeps or predators, this def makes them look like one. Boys and men need to know better. Please don’t tap tap tap a child’s bum even if it’s ‘way to go kid!'”
Even if her dad and coach are not creeps or predators, this def makes them look like one. Boys and men need to know better. Please don't tap tap tap a child's bum even if it's "way to go kid!👏" https://t.co/pFCgO6u3VL
— Matea (@Kocka_) August 29, 2022
In an interview with iSport, the adolescent has since addressed the criticism, saying: “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,” she told the Czech publication. “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,” Bejlek continued.
“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,” she added.
Some users didn’t even bat an eye at the embrace, claiming that due to cultural differences, only people with a Western mindset would find the interaction unpleasant.
Despite all, the Russian star Ludmilla Samanova defeated the Czech-born star on the morning of August 30 to clinch her 11th straight victory and end the Czech-born star’s grand slam debut.