Roger Federer is clearing the air regarding a confrontation he had with a chair umpire at the 2021 French Open.
During his Thursday match against Marin Cilic — which Federer won 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 , 6-2 — the professional tennis player, 39, got into what appeared to be a heated exchange with the umpire, who gave him a time violation for taking too much time between points.
According to CNN, Federer was also seen speaking with his opponent at the net, seemingly about the violation.
Federer said after the match that he “didn’t feel like [he] was playing particularly slow,” CNN reported. “I always feel like I don’t make my opponent wait very much, but clearly Marin wanted to go faster. I didn’t realize that.”
“I just feel like it was a misunderstanding on many levels. I didn’t understand it and figure it out, and I guess I’m just new to the new tour,” he added. “It was quite interesting to live through it. Got a little energy into the match, which I liked.”
Federer’s French Open appearance marks a big milestone for the Swiss athlete, who underwent two surgeries on his right knee in early 2020 and withdrew from both the 2021 Australian Open and 2021 Miami Open earlier this year.
He returned to the court in March at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open, where he fell to Georgian player Nikoloz Basilashvili. He also hopes to play in the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games, which are currently scheduled to start in July.
“I thought for a long time when and where I should come back,” Federer told a Swedish news outlet in February, according to the ATP Tour. “[The Australian Open] was still a bit too early because of my knee.”
“I want to celebrate big victories once again,” he added. “And for that, I am ready to go the long, hard way.”
Federer’s incident at the French Open came three days after fellow competitor Naomi Osaka withdrew from competition, citing mental health after she declined to attend the mandatory post-match press events and was fined $15,000. (Petra Kvitová also announced her withdrawal the following day, due to an ankle injury.)
“This isn’t a situation I ever imagined or intended when I posted a few days ago. I think now the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being is that I withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris,” wrote Osaka, 23, on social media.
“I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer,” she added. “More importantly, I would never trivialize mental health or use the term lightly.”
Ahead of the tennis tournament’s start, Osaka announced she wouldn’t be doing press during the championship in an effort to preserve her mental health. On Sunday, Osaka picked up her first win and a $15,000 fine for not participating in media requirements.