Terence Atmane, of France, plays a forehand return to Daniil...

Terence Atmane, of France, plays a forehand return to Daniil Medvedev, of Russia, during a first-round match at the Australian Open tennis championships at Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, Jan. 15, 2024. Atmane was allowed to continue his first-round match at the French Open, Sunday, May 26, 2024, without being penalized after hitting a ball angrily and accidentally striking a spectator in the stands at one of the event's smaller courts. His opponent, Sebastian Ofner, won the match in five sets. Credit: AP/Andy Wong

PARIS — French tennis player Terence Atmane was fined $25,000 (about 23,000 euros) at Roland Garros on Friday — nearly a third of his prize money — after hitting a ball angrily and accidentally striking a spectator in the stands during his first-round loss.

Atmane, a 22-year-old with a career-best ranking of 120th, smacked a ball over the wall into the seats behind the opposite baseline at 492-capacity Court 12 after losing a point in the fourth set of his French Open match against Sebastian Ofner of Austria.

Ofner wound up winning 3-6, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-2, 7-5 on Sunday, Day 1 of the Grand Slam tournament.

A player who loses in the opening round at the French Open earns 73,000 euros — about $80,000 — in prize money.

Atmane's fine is by far the largest of the 10 handed out so far to women and men during the clay-court event.

Atmane posted an apology Tuesday on Instagram, writing: “This gesture was not intentional. Please forgive me for my emotional outburst.” He said that a broken string on his racket affected the flight of the ball and added that he was too shocked by what happened to react immediately.

Play was delayed for nearly 15 minutes at 4-1 in the fourth set while the chair umpire and other officials spoke to the fan who was hit, trying to decide what, if any, action to take against Atmane. Eventually, he was given a warning for unsportsmanlike conduct but no further penalty.

Ofner thought Atmane should have been defaulted from the match right away.

“For me, it was a bit surprising, because if you do something like that on a small court, you have to be punished, you know?” Ofner said Sunday. “Because it’s not like you hit the ball normally. It was full power. The ball was so fast. Straight in the crowd. There were people disqualified for less.”

Tournament referee Remy Azemar told French sports newspaper L’Equipe that Atmane was not disqualified because the spectator said she was fine.

At last year’s French Open, for example, Miyu Kato and her doubles partner were forced to forfeit a match when Kato accidentally hit a ball girl in the neck with a ball after a point at Court 14. At the same tournament, Mirra Andreeva swatted a ball into the Court Suzanne Lenglen stands after dropping a point during a loss against Coco Gauff; like Ofner, Andreeva escaped with a warning from the chair umpire.

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