Victoria Azarenka says tennis must address inappropriate coach relationships

·2-min read

Victoria Azarenka believes tennis must do more to stamp out inappropriate relationships between male coaches and female players.

It has been an open secret within the sport for years that many such situations occur, and Pam Shriver went public earlier this year with the revelation that she was involved with former coach Don Candy when she was a teenager.

French player Fiona Ferro, meanwhile, has accused her former coach Pierre Bouteyre of rape and sexual assault, with the case now the subject of legal proceedings.

Azarenka is on the WTA Player Council and, following her third-round victory at the US Open, the Belarusian said: “It’s a very sensitive subject, because you won’t hear those stories unless players come out and tell those stories. It happens right and left on the tour, which is unfortunate.

“Our job is to be better at safeguarding. As a 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. If I had a daughter, I would have a question would she want to play tennis, that would be a very big concern in that way for me.

Victoria Azarenka in action at Flushing Meadows
Victoria Azarenka in action at Flushing Meadows (Julia Nikhinson/AP)

“Just 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 give your hand, ‘What I can do? What I can help with?’

“I applaud her for being brave. I hope this situation, she’s going to 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.”