The celebrations that 16-year-old tennis star Sara Bejlek shared with her father and coach during the U.S. Open have been criticized by those who were watching as both “creepy” and “inappropriate.”
Bejlek, who is from from Czechia, had put up an outstanding performance to defeat Heather Watson on Friday (August 26) and earn a spot in the grand slam competition for the very first time in her career.
However, it was what happened after the match when she was celebrating that caused a stir on social media.
During the broadcast of the match, the world No. 194 was seen shaking hands with both her opponent and the official before making her way over to an obviously overjoyed spectator.
That man, who we now know to be Bejlek’s father, hugged his daughter very tightly.
While they were hugging each other, he appeared to give his teenage daughter repeated pats on the backside before kissing her on the lips. The same celebration also occurred with Bejlek’s coach.
It appears that their way of celebrating did not sit well with a significant percentage of the audience. However, there were also some people who did not bat an eye over the embrace.
“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,” tweeted a fan.
Another added: “The WTA needs to look into these especially since these young girls are traveling w men from a very young age. Also y’all can say its the dad or WTV but does your dad touch your bum like that.”
“‘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 fan said.
It was suggested by a few individuals that because Bejlek was hugging her own father in the moment of winning, it was merely a loving embrace.
Videos of the incident have already gone viral online, with just one tweet alone receiving more than 200,000 views as of Wednesday (August 31) morning.
Bejlek told reporters on Tuesday (August 30) after losing in the first round of the U.S. Open that“of course I saw the video” that shows her father Jaroslav Bejlek patting her backside repeatedly following her win on Friday.
She added that her team will now no longer be “rejoicing” the same way they did following her win on Friday that resulted in such widespread negative criticism.
“It was a spontaneous reaction of the whole team. We rejoiced,” she said.
“It may certainly seem inconvenient and uncomfortable to some, but we have already discussed it with the team. It won’t happen again.”
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