The ATP have announced a plan to "comprehensively review" their policies in order to help them better protect people from abuse. This is being viewed as a welcome move by many in the tennis community, in light of the recent allegations against Alexander Zverev.
However, it is pertinent to note that the process is still in its nascent stages. According to the ATP website, "a team of expert consultants" is currently putting together a report that will set forth the conditions for reform, if any.
The report will carry a list of recommendations to tackle issues pertaining to abuse. The ATP will then formulate its policies in accordance with the recommendations.
Even though we are a while away from the policy being set in stone, there is plenty of positivity about the fact that ATP has finally acknowledged the need for reform. The domestic abuse cases involving Alexander Zverev as well as Nikoloz Basilashvili had prompted calls for the ATP to address the issue of domestic violence, and the lack of action on their part was seen by many as a failure.
Zverev and Basilashvili both shook the core of the tennis world (and outside) last year when it came to light that their partners had accused them of domestic abuse. But while Basilashvili was arrested and subsequently embroiled in a court case, he was still able to play on the tour because there wasn't any law with which the ATP could sanction him.
Alexander Zverev, on the other hand, didn't face any criminal proceedings for the accusations made against him, as the accuser Olga Sharypova refused to go to court. That meant the ATP's hands were again tied, and they couldn't even acknowledge the Zverev case let alone take any action against him.
However, this will likely no longer be the case once the new policy is implemented. The ATP is trying to explore avenues to enable a more "proactive involvement" in this regard.
Having said that, it is difficult to determine if the ATP will be able to sanction past offenders or even open up cold cases once the policy is in effect. There is a chance that it may only apply to future offenders.
"We believe everyone in tennis should feel protected, fairly represented & supported in raising concerns" - ATP CEO Massimo Calvelli
In the press release issued by the ATP, CEO Massimo Calvelli was seen giving his thoughts on the impact of abuse. Calvelli believes "everyone in tennis" ought to be protected, fairly represented and supported.
While this will come as music to the ears of many, it remains to be seen if people like Olga Sharypova, who no longer have any direct link to the sport, can also claim its benefits.
"Abuse has a profound and lasting impact on millions of victims each year. We believe everyone in tennis should feel protected, fairly represented, and supported in raising concerns," ATP CEO Calvelli said. "When abusive conduct or allegations are related to any member of the tennis family it can also impact the public’s trust in our sport. We recognise that we have a responsibility to be doing more."
Calvelli further pointed out that the step to tackle abuse is a groundbreaking one for the ATP. However, he stressed that the policies have to be vetted with extreme care, given that tennis is played across the globe and each country has its own set of laws.
"This represents new ground for us, and the seriousness and complexity of these issues will require us to proceed with care," Calvelli continued. "We have to be sure that any policies are practical and enforceable across our sport, which operates in more than 30 different legal jurisdictions and where players compete as independent contractors. Collaboration with the WTA, ITF and the four Grand Slams will also be important in order to serve the wider tennis community."