Alexander Zverev has angered tennis fans and commentators by addressing domestic violence allegations in his runner-up speech at the Paris Masters.
Daniil Medvedev claimed the title after coming from behind to bring Zverev's fine run of form to an end in the final on Sunday.
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Zverev - winner of back-to-back titles at indoor hard court events in Cologne last month - edged the first set before Medvedev fought back to triumph 5-7 6-4 6-1 in two hours and seven minutes.
The 2020 US Open runner-up was playing this week for the first time since ex-girlfriend Olga Sharypova accused him of serious physical assault, which Zverev described on social media as “unfounded accusations” and “simply untrue”.
And he left the tennis world gobsmacked on Sunday when he seemed to address the allegations in his on-court runner-up speech.
“There's gonna be a lot of people that try to wipe the smile off my face,” said Zverev.
“But under this mask I’m smiling brightly.
“I'm probably gonna be a father soon. Everything is great in my life right now.
“The people keep trying … but I'm still smiling under this mask.”
Zverev addressing the domestic violence allegations in his Paris Masters runner-up speech: pic.twitter.com/HHrBSSFJGp
— R. 🌿 (@drivevolleys) November 8, 2020
Simon Briggs of The Telegraph in the UK said Zverev had “stolen Madevedev’s thunder”.
New York Times writer Ben Rotherberg tweeted that he “truly didn’t know what to say about it”.
I truly don’t know what to say about this… https://t.co/MgWXG8pldy
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) November 8, 2020
While fans went even further, with some labelling Zverev’s actions “disgusting”.
If the allegations against Zverev are true, this is truly disgusting. https://t.co/ffGaphmokL
— Florian Ederer (@florianederer) November 8, 2020
Ok Zverev has lost me for good, even if he should be innocent (his recent actions don’t help to make it look that way though), what an arrogant, disgusting brat do you have to be to say these things? Inexcusable.
— Ina (@inagrrr) November 8, 2020
Zverev tried to play the victim, even thrown father card. Disgusting 🤢
— Sristi (@sriso_o) November 8, 2020
Zverev’s behavior and fake speeches are just disgusting
— S. E. (@tennis_inmyhead) November 8, 2020
Very classy from Zverev clearly having a dig at the women who have made allegations against him in his speech. He's all class that one.
— Kim (@Saint_Gerrard) November 8, 2020
When asked to clarify his comments at the post-match press conference, Zverev said: “For a professional athlete there are always going to be people who try to wipe the smile off your face.”
“So they can keep trying. I'm still smiling.”
Ex-girlfriend’s disturbing claims about Zverev
Last week Sharypova made more disturbing claims against the World No.7 after alleging he tried to strangle her with a pillow before the 2019 US Open.
In an interview with Racquet Magazine published last Thursday, Sharypova said she injected herself with insulin after another alleged incident in Geneva.
“We had another fight, and in that fight he punched me in the face for the first time,” Sharypova told the magazine.
“In other fights he was pushing me, shoving me, twisting my arms, choking me. But this was the first time he punched me, really punched me.
“After this fight he left the room, and I was dying. I was emotionally dying.
“I didn’t understand everything in my life. I couldn’t understand why I was dealing with this, and why he’s not leaving me, why this keeps happening.
“I understand that I can’t live like this anymore. I understand that I can’t be with this person anymore, but he can’t leave me. I knew he wouldn’t let me go.”
Sharypova said she injected herself with insulin in a suicide attempt, but later took glucose tablets that saved her life.
Sharypova previously gave an interview to a Russian sports website in which she alleged the strangulation attempt and that Zverev also hit her head against a wall at a New York hotel before the US Open in 2019, saying she feared for her life.
She also told CNN that she felt she needed to speak up - not just for herself but to help other women.
“I do not want to say that he is a bad person. I'm just saying that he did a terrible thing to me,” Sharypova told CNN.
“A huge number of girls suffer from cruelty, violence and abuse from men and do not tell their stories to anyone. Some are afraid, some just live with it, others simply cannot talk about this topic.
“It hurts me that in the 21st century we still have not come to the conclusion that a woman is also a person, a human.
“We must be respected, not treated like floor rags.”
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au
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