Former tennis prodigy Sofya Zhuk has revealed the brutal abuse she received online after sharing a racy photo of herself on social media.
The 20-year-old Russian, who won the junior Wimbledon title in 2015, has forged a new career in modelling after taking an indefinite break from tennis last year.
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Zhuk regularly shares photos with her 59,000 Instagram followers, but says she was bombarded with an “avalanche” of “aggressive” messages when she shared a topless pic recently.
“I didn’t get quite what was the big deal,” she told Russian outlet RT.
A post shared by Sofya Zhuk (@sofya_zhuk) on
“I posted a photo, so what? When I share something, I’m not trying to send any message.
“I’m just posting a picture that I like.
“But when I shared that photo, I received an avalanche of messages.
“Normally I wouldn’t bother about them, but this (time) around they were so aggressive.
“I just think people simply can’t accept that I’ve found myself outside tennis, that I can live happily without sport and not sinking into depression.”
Sofya Zhuk forced to step away from tennis
Zhuk stepped away from tennis last year because of persistent injuries.
The youngster revealed the devastating news on social media in April.
“Everyday I get questions about if I stopped playing tennis and why and when or if I will be back,” she wrote on Instagram.
“I want to make it clear that I understand why you want to know and my answer is - I have not played for seven months now because for a few years I’ve been struggling with serious injuries and always had to play with lots of pain.
“I loved tennis but it got to the point where I wanted to be pain free and mentally be able to live freely and think about my health and future.”
After winning the junior girls title at Wimbledon in 2015, Zhuk made her WTA singles debut at the 2016 Miami Open.
She has won six titles on the ITF circuit and reached 116 in the world rankings.
“Even before Junior Wimbledon, my back was so bad that no doctor wanted to even help me out,” she told the WTA website in March.
“I was considered a lost cause. There was only one doctor that even attempted to treat me, and even his prognosis was that I would last for a few years.
“When it comes to neurological connections, the spine is the main thing in your body. If your spine is off, your hips, shoulders, scapulas, the knees: everything goes off because the position is moving back and forth.
“My body doesn’t absorb protein well, and the discs in my spine are all over the place.
“I’ve taken MRIs that show the firmness of my spine is the equivalent of a 50 or 60-year-old.”
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