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Disqualified Japanese player Kato becomes French Open champion

Paris (AFP) – Japan’s Miyu Kato became a French Open champion on Thursday, four days after she was controversially disqualified from the women’s doubles for accidentally hitting a ball girl.

Kato and her German partner Tim Puetz defeated Bianca Andreescu and Michael Venus 4-6, 6-4, 10-6 in the mixed doubles final at Roland Garros.

“It has been challenging mentally in the last few days after my unjust disqualification from the women’s doubles,” Kato told the Court Philippe Chatrier crowd, reading from a prepared statement.

“Thanks to all the players for their heartfelt messages of support. I used that positive energy on court here today.

“I am now looking for a positive result to my appeal so I can reclaim my prize money, points and my reputation.”

Puetz said he hoped the title would help Kato after the drama of the default.

“I hope this is redemption for you after what happened. The support you received was well deserved.”

The 28-year-old Kato and her Indonesian teammate Aldila Sutjiadi were defaulted on Sunday after a gentle lob from the Japanese player left a ballgirl in tears and shaking.

Initially, the pair were handed only a warning by the chair umpire but their opponents Marie Bouzkova and Sara Sorribes Tormo protested and urged the tournament supervisor to look again at the incident.

Kato and Sutjiadi were then disqualified. Kato also had to forfeit her prize money.

“I hope the ballgirl is OK and I hope we get to play Marie and Sara again,” said Kato.

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