Miyu Kato’s rollercoaster week has ended in redemption.
On Sunday, the Japanese tennis star was in tears after being disqualified from the women’s doubles competition after inadvertently hitting a ball at a ball girl.
Fast-forward to Thursday and the 28-year-old won the French Open mixed doubles title with her German partner Tim Puetz.
The pair came from behind to beat Bianca Andreescu and Michael Venus 4-6 6-4 [10-6] in the final and Kato addressed the crowd with a pre-prepared speech during the trophy ceremony.
“To my partner, Tim, I’m so glad you’re my partner. Thank you so much for always supporting me and always cheering me up,” an emotional Kato said, as Puetz held her microphone.
“To my coach, thank you for always being with me when I was having a hard time. It has been really challenging mentally for me the past few days due to the unjust disqualification from the women’s doubles.
“I want to thank the players, coaches and everyone for their heartfelt messages of support. I was able to use all the positive energy to move forward so I can be here today.”
Kato and her partner Aldila Sutjiadi were defaulted after the Japanese player innocuously hit the ball to the back of the court and struck a ball girl.
Kato was seen crying on court after her disqualification and struggled to answer questions about the incident during an emotional press conference later in the week.
According to the grand slam rule book, players “shall not violently, dangerously or with anger hit, kick or throw a tennis ball within the precincts of the tournament site except in the reasonable pursuit of a point during a match (including warm-up).”
The rule book states: “In all cases of default, the decision of the referee in consultation with the grand slam chief of supervisors shall be final and unappealable.”
A player who is defaulted loses all ranking points earned at the tournament, the rule book states, and all prize money earned at the tournament.
While wishing the ball girl well in her winning speech, Kato also confirmed she was appealing the decision to default her.
“I am looking forward to a positive outcome of the appeal so that I can receive my points and prize money,” she said, to much applause from the crowd.
After a testing week, Kato dealt expertly with the extra pressure of Thursday’s final and looked to the sky in relief after winning match point.
The victorious pair received a standing ovation from the French Open crowd, who have taken Kato in their hearts since the disqualification.