After months of delay and complaints from players and tennis officials, the men’s professional tennis tour announced Monday that it would investigate Alexander Zverev after accusations of domestic abuse made by a former girlfriend.
Zverev, 24, a rising star from Germany ranked fourth in the world in men’s singles, has strongly denied accusations that he was violent with Olya Sharypova during a series of physical altercations. Sharypova, a Russian national, has not filed any criminal charges over the incidents, which, she said, took place in 2019. The two began dating when they were teenagers, but the relationship ended more than a year ago.
Ahead of the U.S. Open, Zverev sought an injunction in court in Germany to prevent further reporting on the allegations by Slate, which had published a lengthy article on them by Ben Rothenberg, a freelance tennis writer who sometimes writes for The New York Times. The court granted the injunction, and Zverev pointed to it as a confirmation of his innocence.
While the court stopped short of that, it agreed with his argument that the evidence presented in the article was not sufficient under German law to justify the impact on him. The decision stated that such an article needed to have enough balance so that it did not leave the impression that Zverev was guilty of the acts Sharypova accused him of committing.
Multiple players have said the ATP needs to address the Zverev situation directly and change its policies about domestic violence allegations. Andy Murray, a former world No. 1, has complained several times this year about how he felt the ATP was dragging its feet on the issue, long after several North American sports leagues changed their policies to allow players who are the subject of domestic violence allegations to be suspended.
“Obviously it was something that needed to change in terms of how some of the situations have been handled, I think, this year,” Murray said after the ATP said it would consider changing its policy. “I just didn’t really feel like the sport had much of a sort of stance on it, really.”
On Monday, the ATP said it fully condemned any form of violence or abuse and would investigate such allegations related to conduct at an ATP member tournament.
Massimo Calvelli, chief executive of the ATP, called the allegations against Zverev “serious.”
“We have a responsibility to address them,” Calvelli said in a statement. “We hope our investigation will allow us to establish the facts and determine appropriate follow-up action.”
The ATP announced in August that an independent panel would review and make recommendations for changes to its policies regarding player conduct, including those players who are the subject of abuse allegations.
Zverev has suggested he will cooperate with an investigation, but it is not clear what form that cooperation will take. The ATP has until now not had any clear rules for investigating and taking action against players who are the subject of domestic abuse allegations before the matters are adjudicated in a court of law.
Sharypova has said she has no intentions of filing charges or a suit against Zverev for the altercations, which allegedly took place in the United States and China while Zverev was competing.
Zverev is scheduled to play at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif., this week and is planning to play at the ATP Tour Finals in Italy next month.
Since the allegations, Zverev has parted ways with his agents at Team8, the agency founded by Roger Federer and his agent Tony Godsick, though he did participate last month in Federer’s tournament, the Laver Cup. Zverev’s main sponsors include Adidas and Rolex, which so far have stuck by him despite the allegations.