Olympic Athletes Who Fired Back At Their Interviewer On Live TV

Competitive sport at the Olympic level is extremely high-pressure for athletes — and that's before you even consider the endless cycle of press conferences and post-match interviews they're subject to. These can be a pretty bitter pill for athletes who are just coming off a significant loss, too.

Sometimes a personal question rubs an athlete the wrong way, or they find a rude interview question or negative critique tough to manage. Female athletes are frequently subjected to repetitive (and misogynistic) questions about their looks or outfit in interviews too, which can definitely be hard to keep quiet about. It can also be difficult for the interviewer, who has to strike the right balance with their questions and know where to stop before things get too personal.

However, sometimes it's just necessary for the athlete to shut down a personal question, ignore a negative critique of their performance, call out an unpleasant comment or set the record straight – though it isn't always pretty. Read on to find out which Olympic athletes fired back at their interviewer on live TV.

Simone Biles fired back at the Dancing with the Stars host who told her to smile

American gymnast Simone Biles made an international impression when she claimed four gold medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics at age 19. Since then Biles has become "the most decorated gymnast in world championship history" per The New York Times. In 2021, Biles joined the US gymnastics team at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

In the five years between the Olympic Games, Biles has been enjoying her success and even appeared on "Dancing With the Stars" in 2017. However, the Houston native has had to deal with some taxing interview comments along the way. Biles shut down "DWTS" host Tom Bergeron live on TV when he criticized her for not smiling.

"I was waiting for you to smile at some of the compliments, you didn't?" he asked, passing the mic towards the gymnast (per Inside Edition). "Smiling doesn't win you gold medals," Biles fired back in response. "Oh. Oh, okay," the "DWTS" host replied. Bergeron clearly wasn't expecting Biles to fire back like that and tried to laugh off the gymnast's reply.

Andy Murray is not shy about calling out reporters on live TV

Along with his sterling tennis reputation, Olympic gold medalist Andy Murray has made a name for himself championing gender equality in his interviews by calling out reporters who overlook female players.

After the Rio Olympics in 2016, BBC interviewer John Inverdale praised Murray for being "the first person ever to win two Olympic tennis gold medals" (per BSC News). "That's an extraordinary feat isn't it," Inverdale added. However, the reporter's statement wasn't factually correct — in fact, it completely ignored the success of the female tennis players at the Olympics. "I think Venus and Serena [Williams] have about four each," the tennis player fired back. Murray did quickly clarify that he was the first player to win two gold medals for singles tennis, but the Olympian was not shy about letting this interviewer know his mistake.

The following year, Murray shut down another reporter during a live Wimbledon press conference. Commenting on Murray's defeat by Sam Querrey in the quarter-finals, a reporter said: "Sam is the first US player to reach a major semi-final since 2009. How would you describe—." Stopping the interviewer in his tracks, the tennis player interjected, "Male player." Stupified, the interviewer said, "I beg your pardon?" Once Murray repeated the question, the reporter confirmed, "Yes, the first male player. That's for sure," laughing off his mistake.

Mo Farah got fired up explaining how sick he is of the media's 'agenda'

British athlete Sir Mo Farah has four Olympic gold medals to his name, having won the 5000m and 10,000m long-distance events at both the London and Rio Olympic Games. However, the long-distance runner missed out from the Tokyo Olympics after he failed to qualify, per Sky News.

Throughout his career, Farah has faced some confrontational interviews, but this 2019 live TV press conference was certainly one of the more difficult ones. Farah slammed the media for their "agenda" against him during the press conference which took place before the Chicago Marathon, per The Guardian.

A reporter asked the Olympian if he felt "let down" by his former coach Alberto Salazar following the latter's ban from athletics for doping offenses. "I feel let down by you guys," Farah fired back. "There is no allegation against me as I've said again and again." The athlete, who had previously commented on how "disappointing" he finds the media coverage of himself, said: "There's a clear agenda to this ... I know where you're going with it. I've seen it with Raheem Sterling, I've seen it with Lewis Hamilton. I can't win, whatever I do."

Bryson DeChambeau has had his share of confrontational interviews

The Tokyo Olympics mark the first time American pro golfer Bryson DeChambeau has competed, per USA Today. However, DeChambeau's road to the Olympics is peppered with some pretty heated interviews.

In his preview press conference for the 2021 British Open, the Olympic newcomer got defensive when he was asked a "controversial" question. "Over the last few months we've watched you launch a few drives into a few crowds and you don't seem to shout fore, I'm just wondering why you don't?" an interviewer asked DeChambeau. "I do shout fore. I don't know what you're talking about," the golfer fired back. "There are plenty of people on the tee box that do shout fore," added DeChambeau, who started getting worked up over the question. "You're bringing up a very controversial thing, which is unfortunate."

The interviewer should have known better than to provoke DeChambeau with a "controversial" question, though, because this isn't the first time the golfer got defensive trying to set the record straight. In 2019 he slammed reporters for criticizing his technique and "slow play" at The Northern Trust (via Fantasy Gold Pod). "It is an attack, and it is something that is not me whatsoever. People don't realize the harm that they're doing to the individuals." DeChambeau tried to defend himself to reporters and suggested that it wouldn't be an issue if "playing partners and caddies" walked faster between shots.

Serena Williams stopped this interviewer in his tracks and demanded an apology

In 2015, tennis champion Serena Williams made headlines for shutting down a reporter during a post-match interview at the US Open. "What's wrong?" the reporter asked, questioning why the tennis player wasn't smiling. Williams is known for being a straight shooter and not holding back in interviews, but her honesty was a little more than this interviewer was expecting. "It's 11:30, I don't, to be perfectly honest with you, I don't want to be here," Williams fired back. "You guys keep asking me the same questions, it's not really ... you're making it super enjoyable, just being honest."

And who could forget the time the tennis star called out Bill Simons for asking her if she was intimidated by Maria Sharapova's supermodel good looks. "I honestly don't have any thoughts about that," Williams shot back at the reporter who claimed he'd been "waiting about 14 years" to ask that question (via iNews).

However, these interviews were nothing compared to her response during a live post-match press conference at the Australian Open in 2017 when a reporter criticized Willams' "scrappy performance," (per Australian Open TV). But the four-time Olympic gold medalist wasn't having any of it. "Oh, I think that's a very negative thing to say," the tennis star fired back. "Are you serious? Well, you should have been out there, that wasn't very kind. You should apologize." After the interviewer reluctantly apologized, Williams answered his question like a pro.

Zara Tindall got sick of dodging questions about the Royal Family

The "media's royal obsession" (per The Guardian) did not dissipate during the 2012 London Olympic Games when royal competitor Zara Phillips (now Zara Tindall) was answering questions with her team at the pre-Olympic press conference. "Is the Queen your biggest fan?" one reporter asked Tindall, but the British equestrian tried to skip the question (via The Telegraph). "Oh, man. Obviously, my family are, you know, very proud and right behind me, and yeah you know it's great that I've been able to be selected to start off with," she said, quickly directing the conversation back to her team. "We still, you know, got to get there and the next few weeks we're all working really hard to make sure all of us do our best performance ever."

However, the royal questions kept coming. Soon the Olympian began losing patience, and it showed in her answers. "Well, they are my family. It's not weird they're coming," Tindall fired back at another reporter who'd made a "quizzical reference" to her royal supporters William, Harry, and Kate (via The Guardian).

Tindall won a silver medal at the London Olympics but failed to qualify for the Games in 2016. The royal is a no-show in the Tokyo Olympics because she gave birth to her third child, Lucas Phillip Tindall, in March 2021, per BBC.

Gwen Berry fired back at critics over her Olympic protest

Track and field athlete Gwen Berry made her Olympic debut at the 2016 Rio Games. The athlete placed third at the Tokyo Olympic trials but later had to appear on "BNC News" to explain her behavior at the medal ceremony. While on the podium, the athlete turned her back to the American flag while the national anthem was playing.

Interviewer Jimmy Marlow pressed Berry on what made her "so uncomfortable" with the national anthem (via BNC News). "History," she fired back. "If you know your history, you know the full song of the national anthem, the third paragraph speaks to slaves in America, our blood being slain ... all over the floor. It's disrespectful, and it does not speak for Black Americans. It's obvious. There's no, there's no question."

However, the interview didn't stop there and Berry became defensive when Marlow asked the athlete about her response to "[people] who are choosing to take what you did in a negative light" and critics who claim she shouldn't be representing the US at the Olympics."I never said that I didn't want to go to the Olympic Games. That's why I competed and got third and made the team," Berry shot back. "I never said that I hated the country, never said that. All I said was that I respect my people enough to not stand for or acknowledge something that disrespects them."

Eugenie Bouchard called out this interviewer for making an unusual request on court

Canadian tennis player Eugenie Bouchard made her Olympic debut at the Rio Olympic Games in 2016. However, prior to competing in the Olympics, Bouchard had an unpleasant interview experience. The tennis player was asked to show off her outfit during an on-court interview at the Australian Open in 2015 — something that clearly wouldn't have been asked of a male player.

"Can you give us a twirl and tell us about your outfit?" on-court interviewer Ian Cohen asked (via ABC News). Though she graciously obliged on the court, the tennis player voiced a delayed reaction to Cohen after she was asked about the twirl at the post-match press conference. "You know, I'm fine with being asked to twirl if they ask the guys to flex their muscles and stuff" she fired back (per Daily Mail).

Bouchard didn't appreciate the double standard but explained that she wasn't "offended" about the incident, which she called "an in the moment thing," and would rather just focus on playing tennis. 

Michael Phelps fired back at these reporters when they ambushed him for an interview

Swimmer Michael Phelps won five gold medals and one silver at the 2016 Olympic Games. "This is how I wanted to finish. What I did here is the best," the athlete said proudly after his performance at Rio, confirming that this was his official retirement from competitive swimming, per Access. However, Phelps' transition into retirement wasn't as smooth as he expected.

A reporter from "Good Morning Arizona" and a live camera crew were waiting at Arizona Airport to welcome Phelps home from the Rio Olympics. But after a 16-hour flight, a surprise interview at the airport was the last thing the athlete wanted — especially with his family in tow — so Phelps made his feelings known. "I'm not answering any questions, guys," the swimmer said repeatedly before turning around to address the crew who were following him out of the airport. "If you could give me that space while I try to get my family home and safe, I would appreciate that."

The interviewer pressed for more, but the swimmer cut him off. "If you guys want to do an interview, you can contact my agency," he said. "I appreciate you guys coming but I'm trying to get my family home safe and that's what matters the most," Phelps added before turning his back on the "GMA" crew.

Usain Bolt fired back a reporter who asked about new anti-doping rules

The 2016 Rio Olympics were also the last for eight-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt. The Jamaican sprinter retired after the 2017 season but unfortunately had to contend with an unpleasant interview experience before the season was over.

"The winning time today was the slowest for a gold medalist since 2003 and the marks in general, they were much slower than the last edition of the World Championships. I would like to know from you guys if you think there is any kind of relationship with a stronger anti-doping control?" a reporter asked the sprinter (along with Christian Coleman and Justin Gatlin) during a press conference at the World Championships in London.

"First of all, I'm sure everybody up in here thinks that's very disrespectful," Bolt fired back at the reporter who seemed to have her facts mixed up. The Olympic athlete, who has never been shy about calling out interviewers or setting the record straight when he needed to, made it clear this line of questioning was out of order. "There's something called injury, and sometimes everything [doesn't] go as smoothly as you want [it] to ... there's so [many] different things, so for you to just directly say something or state something to all three of us like that, I'd say that's disrespectful."