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Zverev should not be on the court today: Henin weighs in on players’ on-court behaviour

The seven-time Grand Slam champion believes that world No 3 Alexander Zverev should have been punished more severely

Germany's Alexander Zverev at the Abierto Mexico de Tenis in Acapulco Germany’s Alexander Zverev at the Abierto Mexico de Tenis in Acapulco Image Credit: AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Former women’s world No 1 and seven-time Grand Slam champion Justine Henin believes that German Alexander Zverev should have been banned for his violent outburst in Acapulco earlier this year.

Zverev was withdrawn from the tournament after he hit the umpire’s chair repeatedly with his racquet following his doubles loss. He was handed a suspended eight-week ban, a total fine of $65,000 and forfeited his ranking points from the event.

The German’s actions stunned tennis fans, and the soft punishment handed out by the ATP Tour further came under heavy criticism from several quarters.

Speaking to Eurosport, Henin was the latest player to say that stricter action should have been taken in the case of Zverev.

“We have to take action. We hope concrete action will be taken so that these extremes stop. You can’t yell at an umpire. Even if there is no intention, it is a problem to break a racquet that flies as far as a ball boy. You can be tired… but we can’t see the images of Alexander Zverev again. These are behaviours of intimidation, of rage, which we cannot see and which we must punish much more severely. He should not be on the court today, Alexander Zverev,” Henin said.

Justine Henin: “Top athletes must remain as role models, even if they are human”

Following Zverev’s incident, Australian Nick Kyrgios and American Jenson Brooksby also received criticism for smashing their rackets on court in frustration which either nearly missed or hit the ball kids on the court in their respective cases.

“I think we can rejoice in Kyrgios’ tennis, in the moments when he plays wonderfully well – I admire that too – but there are extremes that we cannot accept. Zverev… even Medvedev at the Australian Open. Because where are we going to set the limit? Brooksby didn’t even go to apologise to the ball boy. Kyrgios smashed his racquet and almost hit a ball boy – under the excuse that it did not hit the ball boy, they did not sanction him! I think it’s time to stop racquet smashes because these are images that we don’t want to see on television. Top athletes must remain as role models, even if they are human,” the 39-year-old Belgian said.

While several current and former players say that rules have become too strict and players should be allowed to express themselves more on court, Henin thinks that the pros should be garnering recognition for their game rather than their on-court antics.

“I’d rather players are highlighted for their style of play… but if to make tennis attractive, you have to become vulgar and violent – because we are seeing more reactions like this – you reach my limit. I’m not interested in that.”

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