Victoria Azarenka says that protecting young female tennis players should be a priority in light of the charges against tennis coach Pierre Bouteyre.
In her post-match press conference at the US Open, Azarenka says that player abuse happens “left and right” on tennis tours.
She added that inappropriate behaviour often isn’t discussed until players start losing.
“When the winning stops, it becomes dark and there is nobody to hold your hand. That is the moment where it’s not talked about,” she said.
Being a member of the Women’s Tennis Association Players Council, Azarenka says that more needs to be done.
“Our job is to be better at safeguarding. As player council, it’s almost like No 1 subject, to us. Because we see those vulnerable young ladies that getting taken advantage of in different situation.”
She says that coaches can also lead players to become dependent on them, something Azarenka says is dangerous and manipulative.
“In the women’s game, particularly, I see so many coaches that make their players dependent on them, and I think that’s very dangerous. It’s very manipulative too. I wish that kind of subject was talked about a little bit more,” she said.
Her statements come after Fiona Ferro’s former coach, Pierre Bouteyre, had been charged with rape and sexual assault.
The charges against Bouteyre allegedly occurred while Ferro was a teenager, between 2012-2015.
Bouteyre maintains that the relationship was a “true love story”, however, Ferro took to social media to state that she never gave consent.
Azarenka praised Ferro for her bravery in the conference.
“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,” she said.
Azarenka also encouraged journalists to expose abuse.
“Do the research, help people to open up more. Hopefully, one-by-one, try to eliminate those types of situations.”
PHOTO: Azarenka RG19 (55) by si.robi used under a Creative Commons License and available HERE. This photo has not been modified.