“She’s a liar.”
We have heard that rebuttal all too often in the social networking age. More specifically, we have discovered it being repeated over and over in reaction to the national abuse allegations by Olga Sharypova, the ex-girlfriend of World No. 7 Alexander Zverev.
The first instinct of many in the aftermath of Sharypova’s claims was to question the victim rather than the accused. “Why did she wait so long before coming along with her story” “Why is not she pressing charges if the violence was so severe?” “What proof does she have other than images and Whatsapp screenshots?” “Why is she assaulting him after he has attained his first Slam final?”Alexander Zverev, meanwhile, has only needed to say the allegations are’ simply not accurate’ through Instagram – and replicate the identical thing at his Paris press conference – because of his defenders to take his word as gospel. “Why is she such a lying, manipulative, gold-digging bitch?”Internet trolls are not supposed to be taken seriously, nor are impassioned Twitter threads debating the moral fiber of a popular and successful celebrity.
But here is what: Alexander Zverev and Olga Sharypova and all those social media warriors do not exist within a vacuum. They are part of society in general, and the sporting ecosystem – read ATP – specifically. And in that context, the silence of the powers that be is both a troubling precedent for potential abuse victims along with a telling comment of just how much work remains to be done in the battle for equality.
The description of Alexander Zverev’s alleged abuse is not for the faint-hearted
If you haven’t discovered, Sharypova has doubled back on her stand and given a detailed (and catastrophic ) accounts of this alleged violence which Alexander Zverev committed last year. From the interview with Ben Rothenberg, Sharypova explicitly mentions precisely how and when Zverev attacked her during their relationship.
The report ends with a rather disturbing description of a suicide attempt by Sharypova at a Geneva hotel, and the guarantee of more information in the coming days. Perhaps most pertinently, however, the report tells us that at least two other people – Sharypova’s friend Vasil Surduk and his mother (who has been referred to as”Mrs. V” for the interest of confidentiality) – corroborate her story. In addition, there might possibly be video footage of Sharypova’s escape from their hotel room in New York, in addition to testimony from the resort staff in Geneva who helped the Russian survive her suicide effort.
Every one of these new revelations, when taken together with the images and Whatsapp screenshots that Sharypova had shared before on her Instagram handle, clearly indicates this isn’t a baseless story that may be brushed beneath just not true’ carpeting. If Sharypova ever made a decision to press charges (which so far she says she does not mean to), she would have a strong legal case.
So why are the ATP, the ITF, Alexander Zverev’s bureau Team8 (headed by Tony Godsick and not one Aside from Roger Federer) so silent about the problem?
The tennis authorities – proverbial ‘lambs’ in the Alexander Zverev controversy
To be fair, there has been comment attributed to Team8 and Tony Godsick, as stated by Rothenberg within his post. But that has been a rather vague bit of nothingness that merely reiterated what Alexander Zverev himself stated last week. And it was not even voiced by Godsick himself;instead, it was a PR pro named Bela Anda who made the remark. “As you understand, Alexander put a statement on Instagram last week and that he stands by this announcement,” Anda said.
“We’re still working towards achieving the reasonable and respectful dialogue Alexander said in his original announcement.”What kind respectful conversation’ perform Alexander Zverev along with his bureau expect to have a person that has accused him of trying to strangle her? The tone-deafness of this response is astounding even by the standards of tennis’ genteel image.
Some have questioned Roger Federer’s silence about the matter, given that Team8 is partially his brainchild and that he has practically had Alexander Zverev beneath his wing for years now. But anyone who has followed Federer’s public carefully would understand the Swiss are unlikely to speak out in this circumstance.
Federer usually makes it a point to stay out of issues that don’t directly influence him. And many may argue he’s well within his rights to refrain from commenting on Zverev or the allegations, given the fact that he doesn’t signify the German in his individual capacity. However, you’d think the least that Alexander Zverev’s agency could have done was set out a warning or statement of some sort.
Nobody is asking Team8 to immediately sever all ties with Zverev. But is it too much to ask that they at least acknowledge the matter, and guarantee everyone they are keenly following all the developments around it? The silence of this ATP is much more debatable. That is true, not surprising, however, given the rather poor history of the company in this aspect.
A couple of decades before, that the ATP infamously abetted Andre Agassi in maintaining his doping violation under wraps, under a flimsy pretext that the American himself later claimed was untrue. There are many other examples of the officials’ lackadaisical attitude to participant transgressions, such as one from 2020 itself. Just this May, Nikoloz Basilashvili was arrested on charges of assaulting his wife. However, there was no punishment, suspension, or possibly a measly announcement from the ATP admitting his participation.
What does the ATP rulebook say with regard to such cases?
Here’s a relevant extract from the organization’s rulebook:
“It is an obligation for ATP players and Related Persons, to refrain from engaging in conduct contrary to the integrity of the game of tennis.
b) A player, or related person, that has at any time behaved in a manner severely damaging to the reputation of the sport may be deemed by virtue of such behavior to have engaged in conduct contrary to the integrity of the Game of Tennis and be in violation of this Section.
d) A player, or related person, charged with a violation of a criminal or civil law of any jurisdiction may be deemed by virtue of such charge to have engaged in conduct contrary to the integrity of the Game of Tennis and the ATP Senior Vice President – Rules & Competition may provisionally suspend such player, or related person, from further participation in ATP tournaments pending a final determination of the criminal or civil proceeding.
e) Violation of this section shall subject the player to a fine of up to $100,000 and/or suspension from play in ATP Tour or ATP Challenger Tour tournaments for a period of up to three (3) years.”
Alexander Zverev hasn’t been’charged’ with any violation yet nor is he likely to be, therefore clause’d’ does not apply . But what about clause’b’? In the event the allegations by Sharypova are partly true, shouldn’t Zverev’s behaviour be considered’seriously damaging to the standing of the game’?Clearly the ATP doesn’t think so, if its stony silence is not anything to go by.
But even the commentators during Alexander Zverev’s matches at the Paris Masters this week have barely touched upon the national abuse allegations. It almost seems as though everybody is consciously attempting to play down the controversy.But what else should we expect from a company which didn’t believe Basilashvili being arrested for assaulting his spouse was worth speaking about?Alexander Zverev is a far higher-profile figure than Basilashvili; he is your golden boy, the leader of the’Next Gen’, the one who is supposedly going to rule out the sport once the Big 3 retire.
And also the alleged victim in this instance is not even pressing fees. It should not surprise us if the ATP believes this to be the player’s own’private business’ that nobody needs to get involved in.So what if it makes Alexander Zverev look like a toxic, violent and dangerous abuser, right? That’s only his private business enterprise.
Believe everyone but the accuser
Olga Sharypova hasn’t shown her claims in a court of law, so firmly in legal conditions Alexander Zverev can not be called a domestic abuser yet. However, Sharypova has granted a comprehensive account of the alleged abuse, including dates, pictures and texts. That puts the onus of thinking up a defense – or even a simple clarification or justification – squarely on Zverev’s shoulders.
Imagine if Sharypova is creating all of this up, you inquire? If she actually has doctored those pictures and screenshots, as well as paid Vasil Surduk along with his mum to back up her claims, then she must definitely be prosecuted in court. But it is up to Alexander Zverev along with his legal team to verify that she is lying.In the lack of any concrete response from these to all her comprehensive asserts, any objective person would have a tendency to think Sharypova.
But do we really believe her? Can we believe any alleged victim when they come out with their narrative? A few isolated cases of fraudulent accusations have made us oblivious to the fact that a huge majority of these statements are grounded in truth.Sharypova has declared she wants nothing – no money, support or even an apology – from Alexander Zverev.
All she needs is for the entire world to know the fact, for the sake of her peace of mind in addition to for the security of any future partners of their German. Why then are we so eager to cast doubt on her reasons?I have lost count of the amount of people I’ve seen who assume Sharypova is saying all of this for money, or focus, or even both. Can we actually think the tens of thousands of web comments calling her a’slut’, a’gold-digger’ along with a’bitch’ are the type of attention she’d enjoy?Yes, we need to hold off making any conclusions about Alexander Zverev before the full narrative emerges.
However, the more he takes cover under a three-word rebuttal -‘simply not accurate’ – that the shakier his side starts looking.In essence, Alexander Zverev has so far merely asked us not to believe Sharypova, but with no mention of why we shouldn’t.And no, that they separated a’long time ago’ (as pointedly mentioned in Alexander Zverev’s announcement ) must do nothing to make anyone dismiss Sharypova’s claims. It is mind-boggling how Zverev so many others are using that as a justification; how exactly does the time frame have any significance whatsoever?For all we know Sharypova took a year to come back out with her story because she was afraid of exactly the type of response she’s getting right now.
Or maybe she simply got emboldened by Brenda Patea’s pregnancy announcement last week, and realized that if a single woman can send a message to Zverev throughout the press, then so can she.We do not have to take all of Sharypova’s claims at face value. But we do not need to paint her as an attention-seeking fraud either. And the sad truth is that Alexander Zverev, Team8 and ATP are all indirectly doing this with their unexplained silence.
Would it destroy the ATP or even Team8 or any of Alexander Zverev’s patrons to put out a statement saying they will do everything in their power to get to the bottom of the situation? Really it may, when you think about how simple the alternative is: just call her a liar.