"We see those vulnerable young ladies that [are] getting taken advantage of in different situations," Victoria Azarenka says female tennis players should be encouraged to "open up" about sexual abuse
Sunday 4 September 2022 17:32, UK
Victoria Azarenka believes young female players after being 'taken advantage of' as she raised fresh concerns about sexual abuse in tennis.
Pierre Bouteyre, the former coach of French player Fiona Ferro, was charged in France on Thursday with raping and sexually assaulting Ferro when she was a teenager between 2012 and 2015, according to AFP.
Bouteyre's lawyer told AFP that a relationship had occurred but denied any coercion. The lawyer said the 50-year-old Bouteyre described the relationship as "a true love story."
Speaking at the US Open, Azarenka, who sits on the eight-person WTA players council, said: "We see those vulnerable young ladies that [are] 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."
Azarenka, who reached the tournament's fourth round on Saturday, applauded Ferro for her bravery in speaking out.
Ferro, 25, won two WTA titles and reached as high as world No 39 last year but is currently ranked 259 and lost during tournament qualifiers last week.
"I hope this situation, she's gonna come out of it stronger, and tennis is not ruined for her because of that," Azarenka said.
She implored journalists at the news conference to do their part to expose abuse.
"Do the research, help people to open up more," said Azarenka. "Hopefully one by one, try to eliminate those types of situations."
Current world No 1 Iga Swiatek insisted she has never experienced such a situation and backed the WTA to combat abuse.
"I hope that if something like that happens, we're going to kind of be safe and have trust in WTA that they're going to take care of this stuff properly," said Swiatek. "I'm sure they're doing that."