Azarenka fears young women in tennis 'getting taken advantage of' amid safeguarding concerns

·2-min read

Victoria Azarenka says vulnerable young female tennis players are "getting taken advantage of" as she called for improved safeguarding in the sport.

The Belarusian, who sits on an eight-person WTA players council, was speaking after Frenchwoman Fiona Ferro accused her former coach Pierre Bouteyre of rape and sexual assault.

Bouteyre strongly denied the allegations, with his lawyer telling AFP that he "recognises the relationship occurred but denies any coercion."

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Speaking after her US Open victory over Petra Martic, Azarenka called for increased protection and says she would have a "very big concern" if she had a daughter who wanted to play professional tennis.

"It's a very sensitive subject because you won't hear those stories unless players come out and tell those stories," Azarenka said. "It happens right and left on the tour, which is unfortunate.

"Our job is to be better at safeguarding. As player council, it's almost like the number one subject to us. Because we see those vulnerable young ladies getting taken advantage of in different situations.

"It's really sad and really makes me emotional because I have a son [and] I don't see that happening so much on the men's tour.

"If I had a daughter, I would have to question would she want to play tennis, that would be a very big concern in that way for me.

"[The] recent story with Fiona Ferro that came out. I don't know how to put it in words sometimes. All you can do is check in on the person and kind of give your hand what I can do, what I can help with.

"I applaud her for being brave. I hope this situation she's gonna come out of it stronger and tennis is not ruined for her because of that. That's I think [a] very, very heavy topic.

"But it's the topic that has to come out more, and I think it's [journalists'] job also to not expose it. It sounds pretty weird when I say that, but do the research, help people to open up more.

"It's hopefully one by one [as we] try to eliminate that type of situation."