The tennis player accused of treating a ball girl like a slave at the Australian Open has hit back at his critics.

Elliot Benchetrit, from France, was playing a qualifying match for the tournament when the chair umpire informed him the ball girl "was not his slave" after he asked her to peel a banana for him during a break in play.

Video from the match that captured the incident subsequently went viral online with the world no. 229 then becoming the butt of harsh criticism from tennis fans.

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Tennis legend Martina Navratilova even retweeted the video with the caption: "What's next grapes? #entitlement."


However, Benchetrit has now explained his side of the story, saying he had already asked the ball girl to peel one banana for him at the start of the match with no sign of an uproar.

"At 6-5 in the final set, during the changeover, I asked the ball girl to peel the banana for me as I had put some cream on my hands in order not to sweat," he told CNN.

"She had done it once before at the beginning of the match. But the second time the chair umpire stepped in and told me that the ball girl was not my slave and I had to peel the banana myself."

Benchetrit said he was amazed at the reaction of both the umpire and observers.

"I could not believe that the umpire said that and I find incredible how this situation got out of control on social media without people knowing what really happened on court."

While the 21-year-old went on to win that qualification match, the banana peel effect may have only kicked in once he made the main draw as he was promptly defeated in straight sets 6-2 6-0 6-3 by Japan's Yuichi Sugita.