Dominic Thiem accused Serena Williams of showing “bad personality” after he was asked to interrupt a post-match news conference to make room for the American following her French Open defeat.
The Austrian fourth seed was talking to the media after his third-round win on Saturday and Williams, who had just lost in straight sets to compatriot Sofia Kenin, was pushing organisers to give her a room right away.
“Put me in another room, a smaller one, but now,” she said, without asking to be directed to the main room where Thiem was speaking.
Organisers made Thiem move out and the Austrian was fuming at being treated like “a junior”.
“It’s a joke,” the 25-year-old Thiem told the ATP press officers after being told he had to go to another room.
“I have to leave the room because she’s coming. What the hell, I don’t care. I can also do whatever I want.”
On Sunday, speaking to Eurosport Germany, Thiem added: “Actually, I wasn’t angry or frustrated. Maybe for a couple of minutes or so.
“It is just the principle. It doesn’t matter, if it is me who sits in there. I still made a wrong statement. I said that I am not a junior anymore.
“But even if a junior is in there, every player has to wait. It is a matter of course. It also shows a bad personality in my opinion. I am a 100 percent sure (Roger) Federer or (Rafael) Nadal would never do something like that.”
Federer, a 20-times Grand Slam champion, said he understood Thiem’s frustration.
“I think there is, with all the players, always a way to go that the one who is still in the tournament gets priority. Anyway, that’s how I see it,” he told reporters on Sunday.
“If I would have lost today against (Leonardo) Mayer, I would let Mayer go first or decide when he wants to go to press as he’s got a next match.
“Now, there must have sure been a misunderstanding or maybe they should have kept Serena still in the locker room, not waiting here in the press centre. I understand Dominic’s frustration.”
Thiem’s reaction caused amusement in the locker room.
“For him it’s just about how in the world did this happen? I don’t think he’s mad at Serena or anybody,” said Federer.
“I just think it was an unfortunate situation that I thought was funny and we joked about it just before. That’s why I’m very much aware of what happened, and that’s why we are laughing in the locker room about it now.”