‘More about clicks than truth’: Zverev in tense presser exchange with reporter as star faces trial over alleged domestic abuse
German star Alexander Zverev has defended his position on the ATP council and hit out at reporting over his upcoming appearance in court over domestic abuse allegations.
Media in Germany reported this week the 26-year old will face trial in May over alleged bodily harm against ex-girlfriend Brenda Patea, the mother of his child, during an argument in 2020 in Berlin.
Zverev has denied all allegations.
The trial comes after a court fined him 450,000 euros and issued a penalty order over the case in October 2023 – a type of summary punishment in German law enforced when a judge believes evidence is strong enough to not require a public trial – a sentence which Zverev is appealing.
Despite frequent criticism, the ATP has made no ruling against the world No.6’s ability to compete in tournaments, with further questions arising after Zverev was shockingly announced as a new member of the sporting body’s player council earlier this month, having been elected by his peers.
Zverev’s starring role in the Netflix tennis documentary Break Point‘s second season, which features an entire episode devoted to his comeback from a serious ankle injury, has also been criticised, with the documentary not mentioning the allegations against him.
Following his win over countryman Dominik Koepfer in the first round of the Australian Open, Zverev refused to engage with a reporter’s questions about his suitability to remain on the council and on his pending court case, saying journalists pursuing the story are ‘more about the clicks than the actual truth’, in a tense exchange.
Journalist: Sorry to cut straight to this, but can I ask about the trial in Germany? Do you think it’s appropriate to continue on the ATP players council while that case is underway?
Zverev: Why would it not be?
Journalist:. Well, there’s obviously a question mark about your judgment –
Zverev: There isn’t.
Journalist: – that the court will decide. You don’t think so?
Zverev: There isn’t. No.
Journalist: You have the confidence of your fellow players to continue in that role?
Zverev: Yeah, I think so. I mean, I think so. Nobody has said anything to me. I don’t have a reason not to believe that.
Journalist: There are some people around saying you shouldn’t be playing at all, let alone be in a leadership position. What are your thoughts about that?
Zverev: Like who? Journalists are saying that, some, who are actually interested more in this story to write about and more about the clicks than the actual truth?
Zverev’s trial will begin on May 31, meaning it will be ongoing during the 2024 French Open, though the tennis star is not required to attend.
Ms Patea’s allegations are the second time Zverev has been accused of domestic abuse, with former girlfriend Olya Sharypova claiming in an interview with Racquet Magazine and tennis journalist Ben Rothenberg in 2021 that he had punched her in the face during an argument at the 2019 Laver Cup.
Zverev denied the allegations, with the ATP launching an investigation and announcing in January 2023 that there was insufficient evidence to support Ms Sharypova’s claims.
To date, his only ATP-enforced sanction has been a suspended eight-week ban for hitting the chair umpire’s chair with his racquet following a doubles loss at the 2022 Mexican Open, for which he was defaulted from the tournament and fined $40,000 plus an additional $25,000 from the sporting body.
Zverev’s fellow tennis players were silent over the allegations against the German, and his role on the council, when questioned during press conferences following their first-round matches.
Stefanos Tsitsipas claimed he was ‘completely unfamiliar’ with the situation, while Grigor Dimitrov said the case was ‘a matter that I think everyone needs to sit down together and discuss all of that’.
“I definitely won’t comment more on that [allegations against Zverev], because I don’t know what the situation is,” Dimitrov said.
“I think, in general, I always stay away from press in general. I really don’t read much. Of course there are things swirling around, of course I understand that part.
“On the other side, on the council, I think I didn’t — I mean, honestly, I don’t know what to say. It’s not only up to me who is in there, right?
“I think this is a matter that I think everyone needs to sit down together and discuss all of that. That’s my message on that end.
“Of course now these things coming through, personally, I didn’t know. So I’m sure if you ask all the other guys, it’s something that if it’s needed, I guess we are all going to sit down and talk about it.”
However, women’s No.1 Iga Swiatek was more forthcoming, saying there was ‘no good answer’.
“For sure it’s not good when a player who’s facing charges like that is kind of being promoted,” Swiatek said following her first-round win over 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin.
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“I don’t know what the result of the investigation or the case is going to be. I’m also not sure what’s the history in terms of the other cases that he had. I don’t know if he won or lost.
“I guess you have to ask ATP what they want to do with that, because I’m not in the right position to judge.”
Zverev will play Slovakian Lukas Klein in his second-round match on Thursday.