French tennis player accuses former coach of sexual assault

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A professional tennis player from France who reached a career-high ranking of No. 39 last year has accused her former coach of rape and sexual assault.

The French Tennis Federation said in a statement Saturday that it is “standing by” Fiona Ferro, a 25-year-old who lost in qualifying at the U.S. Open last week, “in the proceedings she has initiated against her former coach, Pierre Bouteyre.”

The federation added that it “is examining the possibility of filing a civil lawsuit in this case.” Ferro wrote on social media about her accusation against Bouteyre and said, “I did not consent.”

“I have full confidence in the justice system of my country and confirm that I do not wish to make any other statement on the criminal investigation,” Ferro said.

The Associated Press typically does not identify people who say they have been sexually assaulted unless they come forward publicly, which Ferro has done.

Ferro is the latest female tennis player to bring attention to the issue of protecting athletes from predatory coaches.

“We applaud Fiona for having the courage to come forward with these allegations. We are pleased to see a full investigation and legal process being pursued,” a WTA spokesperson said via an emailed statement on Saturday. “The WTA is dedicated to ensuring a safe environment across our tour. Safe-guarding requires vigilance, and we are continuing to invest in education, training, and resources to improve our efforts.”

After winning her third-round match at the U.S. Open on Saturday, two-time Australian Open cham-pion Viktoria Azarenka was asked about the ma-nipulation and exploitation of young players by coaches.

She said the WTA player council, of which she’s a member, considers safeguarding a “No. 1 subject … because we see those vulnerable young ladies that (are) getting taken advantage of in different situa-tions.”

Mentioning Ferro, Azarenka said: “I applaud her for being brave. I hope this situation, she’s going to come out of it stronger and tennis is not ruined for her because of that. That’s, I think, a very, very heavy topic. But it’s the topic that has to come out more.”—AP

 

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