The ATP has announced it is investigating high-profile allegations of domestic abuse made by the former girlfriend of Olympic champion Alexander Zverev.
Last October, the former junior player Olga Sharypova publicly accused the world No 4 of a series of serious assaults, to which he issued a blanket denial.
An interview with Sharypova published by Slate in August contained new allegations, including that Zverev punched Sharypova in their hotel room during the Shanghai Masters in October 2019 and that, in desperation and for a second time, she injected herself with insulin.
Zverev continues to deny all the allegations and has now taken legal action, a route Sharypova has not pursued.
The ATP has been heavily criticised for a lack of action but the organisation has now announced an investigation into Sharypova’s allegations surrounding the Shanghai event, with a statement adding: “The ATP fully condemns any form of violence or abuse and will investigate such allegations related to conduct at an ATP member tournament.”
The organisation’s chief executive, Massimo Calvelli, said: “The allegations raised against Alexander Zverev are serious and we have a responsibility to address them. We hope our investigation will allow us to establish the facts and determine appropriate follow-up action.
“We understand Zverev welcomes our investigation and acknowledge that he has denied all allegations. We will also be monitoring any further legal developments following the preliminary injunction obtained by Zverev in the German Courts.”
In a statement, Zverev concurred with Calvelli’s comments. “I have always been in full support of the creation of an ATP domestic violence policy,” he said. “Moreover, I welcome the ATP-investigation in the matter and have been asking the ATP to initiate an independant investigation for months.
“As stated before, I categorically and unequivocally deny any of these allegations. We have obtained a preliminary injunction against the publisher and the journalist of the false allegations which states, the accusations are defamatory and false. Nevertheless the publisher and the journalist are both in deliberate violation of this court order by refraining from taking down the reporting and continuing to push the allegations on social media repeatedly. My lawyers have initiated further proceedings.” Slate continue to stand by their investigation which following the original injunction they stressed was “fair and accurate reporting based on multiple sources and interviews.”
Meanwhile, an independent safeguarding report, commissioned by the ATP earlier in the season, has been completed.
The report was compiled by a team led by Chris Smart, the former detective chief inspector of the Metropolitan Police, and outlines a number of recommendations. The statement continued: “ATP will now evaluate the recommendations to identify immediate next steps and develop a longer-term safeguarding strategy relating to all matters of abuse, including domestic violence.”
Calvelli added: “As an organisation we recognise the need to be doing more to ensure everyone involved in professional tennis feels safe and protected. The recommendations of the safeguarding report will help us approach this in a robust way. We are committed to making meaningful steps forward and know this won’t be an overnight process.”