BY ALAN WANG
“Athletes are human. Many people in our society struggle with anger, and many athletes do as well.”
23 year-old German tennis star Alexander Zverev’s ex-girlfriend, Olya Sharypova, attests that Zverev tried to strangle her with a pillow in a hotel room in New York on Aug. 29, 2019 before she fled barefoot because she. Sharypova first described this incident on Oct. 29 through Instagram without naming the perpetrator but later confirmed that she was referring to Zverev in an interview with Championat, a Russian sports news outlet. In Sharapova's interview with CNN, she explained that she did not contact the police or mention this incident because she did not want to cause Zverev trouble.
However, Zverev argues that this incident never happened. Even though Zverev claims that the allegation is false, there is evidence such as pictures documenting Sharypova’s belongings being thrown out of the hotel room that hint to the alleged events. Many people online suggest that Sharypova must be lying because they look up to Zverev as a respectable Tennis star.
Although Zverev is a famous and reputable athlete, it does not excuse him of justice, or not being accountable for his disgusting actions.
Nonetheless, there are many who believe that Sharypova is not telling the truth. Essentially, people questioned why Sharypova waited so long to go public about the incident. However, this should not be held against her because of the difficulty to open up about a subject such as domestic abuse. Also, Sharypova is likely to have still cared about Zverev because they were in a relationship. This could have caused her to stay silent cause she didn’t want to bring burden to him. To add on, Sharypova might have feared being rejected and discredited because Zverev is a famous tennis star, causing the public to immediately view Sharypova's allegations as false.
Secondly, many people see Zverev as a respectable person because of his fame in Tennis as well as his large fan base. The people that look up to him will think that it is impossible for him to do something horrible because they idolize him.
Also, because Zverev denied the incident, his fans will find any way to believe that he did not do anything wrong. Many fans resorted to shaming Sharypova for coming forward with the allegations, stating that she is just after Zverev. The idolization of Zverev causes many to think that the allegations are false.
Even with these allegations, Zverev is living his life like nothing happened. He recently just won in the Paris Masters against Siberian tennis star Miomir Kechmanovic. Also, his ex-girlfriend Brenda Patea recently announced that he is 20 weeks pregnant with Zverev’s baby. This lack of accountability of Zverev sends an unacceptable message to fans and other tennis players around the world.
Recently, Georgian tennis star Nikoloz Basilashvil was also accused of domestic abuse by his ex-wife, Neka Dorokashvili. This case was extremely important for the Caucasus nation because according to a study made by the United Nations and Georgia's National Statistics Office, one in seven of Georgian women suffer abuse from a partner, and almost all of the cases go unpunished. Bashilashvil has also denied all of the allegations, just like Zverev.
Both of these athletes were allowed to continue to play in competitions. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has not released any statement about either allegation. In both cases, there is significant evidence such as detailed accounts and photographs accounting the alleged events. Even though they denied the allegations, we can not rule out the chance that the events are true. Additionally, attacking Sharypova and Dorokashvili for coming forward is extremely disrespectful and harmful to the self-confidence of these women. It takes so much courage to talk about abuse especially when the abuser is someone like a famous tennis star because of the fear of rejection.
People should not blindly trust people such as famous tennis stars. In the case of Zverev, many people blindly trusted him without looking at the evidence presented, showing the need to look at documentation of the events before forming opinions.