If you're a top 10 player from as early an age as 20, things can get to your head. And that seems to be the case with Alexander Zverev; as his worldwide popularity has grown, the people associated with him have allegedly got much more than they bargained for.
This has been a year of firsts for Zverev. He reached his first Major semifinal at the Australian Open, his first final at the US Open, and more recently his first brush with fatherhood. But the young star now also finds his public image and career in serious jeopardy for the first time, following shocking revelations made by his ex-girlfriend.
The day started with Alexander Zverev's recent ex-girlfriend, Brenda Patea, announcing that she was pregnant with his child. But more tellingly, Patea publicly dismissed any thoughts of shared custody of their upcoming baby, claiming that she wants nothing to do with the tennis star.
That raised some eyebrows, but some assumed it could be due to their recent separation which didn't go well. What came next from another ex-girlfriend, however, was a real bombshell.
Russia's Olga "Olya" Sharypova, who was in a relationship with Alexander Zverev for several years, revealed via an Instagram post on Wednesday that she was a victim of domestic violence.
A translated version of the original post, done by a fan fluent in Russian, is given below:
A former junior tennis player herself, Sharypova dated Zverev until 2019. While she didn't explicitly name Alexander Zverev in her post, their on-off relationship history led to widespread speculation that she was hinting at the tennis star.
The confirmation came soon enough. When Russian website 'Championat' contacted her for a follow-up, Sharypova affirmed that she was, in fact, talking about Alexander Zverev.
Sharypova added that the incident mentioned in her Instagram post took place a year ago. After she had got back from a walk with Daniil Medvedev's wife and her friend, Dasha Medvedeva, Zverev allegedly got into a fit of anger and physically abused her.
Sharypova's account also describes how the German tennis star locked her out of their hotel room and threw her luggage in the hall.
"You have to answer for everything" - Ex-flame accuses Alexander Zverev
In the interview with Championat, Olga Sharypova claimed that the violence from Alexander Zverev wasn't a one-off instance; apparently, it happened multiple times during their tumultuous relationship.
The incident she pointed out in particular was from August 2019 in New York, a short while before the couple went their separate ways for good. The timeline suggests the incident possibly took place during last year's US Open.
Sharypova claimed the tennis star tried to choke her and that she was afraid for her life. The Russian stressed that that was the scariest of all the incidents, and that at one point during the ordeal she struggled to even breathe.
When asked if her sudden revelation had anything to do with the pregnancy announcement by Brenda Patea, Sharypova responded that it was a coincidence. The Russian, in fact, put it down to "karma doing its work".
Sharypova also stated that the tennis star needs to be held responsible for his actions - to herself, as well as to Patea.
"I was going to tell about it," Olga Sharypova said. "And I wanted to do it for a long time. It just so happened that it was on this day that two of his ex-girlfriends made loud statements. Boomerang returned to him today. For each of their actions, people must be responsible: whether it is a child or violence."
The revelations from Sharypova have also led to fans wondering if there's more to the story about Patea not wishing to share custody of her child with Alexander Zverev. Many now think it could have been more than just a "bad break-up", and that the German model might have gone through similar experiences during her romantic involvement with Zverev.
Sharypova further stated that she stayed quiet for a long time because she didn't want to spoil the public image of Alexander Zverev, a man she truly loved once. But that has changed now.
Olga Sharypova ready for any 'lie-detector' tests against Alexander Zverev
Olga Sharypova is aware that some might question the integrity of her account, or that Alexander Zverev might even decide to lawyer up against her. But she is prepared to do anything to prove her claims - even to the extent of undergoing lie-detector tests.
"I am ready for any tests, including a lie detector, to confirm my words," Olga Sharypova said.
Sharypova also made it a point to mention that she isn't looking for monetary compensation from Alexander Zverev. She just wants the story to be known, so that any woman who gets involved with the star in the future is put on guard.
The Russian also shared a few screenshots of the WhatsApp conversations with a friend whom she had contacted for help.
The friend in question also took a picture of her luggage that was thrown out of their hotel room by Zverev, which can be seen in their conversations.
Alexander Zverev hasn't yet given a statement on the entire situation; it remains to be seen what side of the story the German presents in his defense. But from Olga Sharypova's detailed account, it is hard to imagine whether Zverev can put up any defense at all.
The accusation is shattering not only to Alexander Zverev's personal image, but also to the global image of tennis as a sport. The German has been billed as the leader of the 'Next Gen' for years, and was already being looked up to as a role model by many. But if any of these claims are true, all of that will have to be reversed quickly.
At a time when the 'Me Too' revolution is continuing to embolden women to stand up to their oppressors, Olga Sharypova's revelation comes as a stark reminder that literally anybody could have skeletons in their closet. Alexander Zverev is innocent until proven guilty, but he has a lot of work to do if he wants to prove his innocence.
Update: Alexander Zverev has since posted a statement on his Instagram handle, denying all the charges.
It is now up to the ATP and the rest of the tennis fraternity to handle the situation in the best and most constructive way possible. Olga Sharypova - or any woman in the world, really - should never have to face the kind of ordeal that she described in the post. And the perpetrators of such ordeals should never be allowed to go scot-free.Published 29 Oct 2020, 10:48 IST