Asked about France 2, the minister, former director of the French Tennis Federation (FFT), said that "it is not appropriate". "This must not happen again," she said, calling the message "militant" and "very political".

She said that the director of the tournament "had been able to exchange with him and with his entourage", evoking the principle of "neutrality of the playing field".

Invited to comment on the expression of political positions during this Grand Slam tournament, such as those of Ukrainian athletes since the Russian invasion of their country, the minister stressed that she did not put "the two subjects on the same level".

"When you carry messages that are in defense of human rights, messages that bring people together around universal values, an athlete is free to do so," she said. But, when it comes to a "militant, very political" message like that of the Serbian player, "it must not happen again".

On the other hand, "what happens to Ukrainians on the circuit is so painful, so difficult," she said.

"We can understand, even if we would like there to always be fair play until the end of shaking hands, there is a pain that is there, which I respect," she added. On Sunday, Ukraine's Marta Kostyuk did not greet Belarus' Aryna Sabalenka after their match, earning her the whistles of the Roland-Garros crowd.

After his match won on Monday against American Aleksandar Kovacevic 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (7/1), Novak Djokovic, armed with his marker, wrote a few words in Cyrillic on the camera of Court Philippe-Chatrier: "Kosovo is the heart of Serbia! Stop the violence."

This exit of the world N.3 comes as the north of Kosovo has been the scene for several days of clashes between members of the international force led by NATO (KFOR) and Serb demonstrators who demand the departure of Albanian mayors from the locality.

Serbia, supported by its Russian and Chinese allies, has never recognised the independence proclaimed in 2008 by its former province and tensions regularly erupt between Belgrade and Pristina.

The Roland-Garros code of ethics prohibits political or religious positions. But the FFT published a rather cryptic statement, without addressing the question of a possible sanction: "The debates that cross the international news are sometimes invited on the sidelines of the tournament, it is understandable," simply said the federation.

© 2023 AFP