Mary Carillo interview: 'Tennis is hiding from Alexander Zverev allegations'

The fact that Alexander Zverev was the face of the Laver Cup didn't go well with Carillo - GETTY IMAGES
At the beginning of this month, the American broadcaster Mary Carillo should have been in Boston for the most dazzling show in world tennis. She was supposed to take part in the Laver Cup, a Ryder Cup-style team tournament for the best men's players. Instead, she sat on the sofa and repeatedly watched the Disney cartoon Moana with her granddaughter Reya.
Some things are bigger than tennis, thinks Carillo, and the fact that world number one is.
So Carillo didn't even look at it for a minute.
She has commented on many of Zverev's games in the 11 months since his ex-girlfriend and former junior player Olya Sharypova publicly claimed he abused her physically and mentally. Every time she had her microphone in hand, Carillo emphasized the allegations, including Zverev's consistent denial. But the Laver Cup felt different because it's an event where players are handpicked and invited to take part. "I was getting more and more uncomfortable with the idea that my opinions might get mixed up," says Carillo cautiously from her Florida home.
After talking to the organizers, she withdrew and said she did not want to participate in the "glossing over very serious allegations". Carillo was the first person in tennis to publicly suspend an event because of the Zverev saga, but while she took a stand, the rest of the sport remained closed.
The ATP finally announced last week that it had initiated an "internal investigation" into the Zverev allegations. The brief statement by the governing body came after almost a year of silence. While the ATP left its heels behind, Carillo was disappointed that - apart from Andy Murray, who has repeatedly challenged the ATP - the biggest names in the sport are hardly putting pressure on those in power.
"I really don't get it," she says. “[The players] have power, influence - they have a megaphone. The top men, but what about the top women? Did that happen? Aren't they curious? "
Carillo is known for her headstrong style and has been broadcasting for four decades after her playing career - including winning the 1977 French Open in mixed doubles with John McEnroe - was interrupted by an injury. Her connections with the dressing room and commentary booth are deep, yet she does not hold back from criticizing those who have not spoken out. "I have the feeling that all my sport is hiding behind a very large couch," she says and an angry laugh escapes her lips. "I want to say: 'What are you doing back there? Cheer up! Say something. Or at least raise your hand in solidarity.'" She shakes her head. "It's a big couch."
In the comment booth, some like Jim Courier and trainer Darren Cahill occasionally reminded viewers of the Zverev story, while others were less inclined. "It's very frustrating. They'll say, 'Oh, I won't go into that' or 'You care a lot more about this stuff than I do.' wayward breakfast, and then the same people are in the [commentary] booth and it is not addressed. The breakfast conversation is usually much ... more honest. "
Carillo says it's not just other experts, but also the television networks who they think have done little to aid in reporting the story. “Because of this, the people next to me [commenting] don't feel compelled to react one way or another. It just sits there, ”she says. "The networks are deeply complicit in the silence that has surrounded this for the past 11 months."
Carillo had no intention of publicly protesting the Laver Cup. She still only sees herself as a "little pea" in the narrative. But she decided to go public to show solidarity, not only with Sharypova, but also with American journalist Ben Rothenberg, who broke the story. She is not convinced that it has been widely accepted. "I don't think that not going to the Laver Cup really did much good - and I've lost work. So I'm an idiot at the end of the day," she says with a laugh and holds up her hands. "They're still cheering for Zverev, so the population that has read Ben's stuff is clearly thin compared to the entire tennis world."
Although Zverev has denied all allegations, he welcomed the news of the ATP investigation and said this was the opportunity to "clean my name". Carillo has questions about the procedure: "There has to be transparency. Here, the ATP goes from nothing to an internal investigation, with, as I can imagine, zero-domain expertise. No wonder that Zverev says 'Bring it on' He does. "Doesn't sound nervous, does it?"
She knows using her voice can lose her friends in the industry - and more work - but she is willing to take that risk. "If I get less work now, it's up to me," says Carillo with a sigh. "The fact that the ATP put out a publication should get people to talk more about it. But until the ATP actually comes up with some real evidence, I think it's in the ether."
As for her plans the next time she comments on a Zverev match? "I can't see myself doing anything other than what I did last year."
In this article:
Alexander Zverev
Joueur de tennis allemand
Mary Carillo
American sports presenter and former professional tennis player

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