TV crew expelled from tournament after harassing Kournikova

A French television station was banished from the Swisscom Challenge in Zurich today after harassing glamour tennis star player Anna Kournikova.

A French television station was banished from the Swisscom Challenge in Zurich today after harassing glamour tennis star player Anna Kournikova.

The WTA said that three reporters from M6 had been "extremely aggressive" and had "gone behind the organizer's back" to try and speak with Kournikova, pretending they had clearance for an interview that neither the WTA nor the tournament had granted.

Aside from having their credentials revoked, the threesome was given an hour to check out of the official hotel.

WTA officials said that after Kournikova's agent had refused them an interview with her, the television crew had approached the tennis star and her family at practice, where she declined to answer questions. Then, bluffing, the crew told her they had already cleared it with her agent.

The three members of the TV crew, Delphine Lopez, Jean-Michel Gomez and Jean-Luc Rault Cheyenet, then followed the Kournikovas to the hotel and were again "forceful" in trying to get her to speak with them. At breakfast the next day, the crew returned for another attempt at interviewing her.

"The reporters wound up at the hotel and there was an altercation between them and the Kournikova family about leaving them alone," said Chris DeMaria, WTA vice-president of communications. They asked for an interview. They were respectfully declined but they refused to follow protocol and etiquette. And when you camp out in the hotel lobby, that's going overboard.

"The tournament informed us they were taking away the credentials of the three reporters and asked us if we would support them. We said yes."

Organizers said that M6 were "expressly told that they were not permitted to speak to Ms. Kournikova."

"As the behavior of Delphine Lopez has been completely unacceptable, the tournament organizer has decided to remove the credentials immediately" organizers said in a written statement.

The WTA said that whether M6 will get access to future tournaments has yet to be decided.

M6 had reportedly questioned several other players about Kournikova and done several interviews about her with tennis experts and journalists.

"Things like this happen but it's rare," said DeMaria. "I'd say 99.999 percent of the time, if the answer is no, people are disappointed but that's where it ends."

Second round results from the $1.08 million Swisscom Challenge

Anna Kournikova, Russia (4), def. Tatiana Panova, Russia, 6-3, 6-3. Chanda Rubin, United States (7), def. Jana Kandarr, Germany, 6-2, 2-0, ret. Anastasia Myskina, Russia, def. Elena Dementieva, Russia (8), 6-4, 2-6, 6-1.

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