Zverev allegations: Why Mary Carillo didn’t commentate on Laver Cup
The former player turned commentator chose not to work at the Laver Cup so as not
Quit rather than stay silent – the choice made by Mary Carillo, the former US player turned TV commentator. She chose not to work at the Laver Cup due to the way that the allegations against Alexander Zverev by his former girlfriend, Russian Olya Sharypova, have been handled.
Carillo, who was to work for Tennis Australia – the organiser of the event alongside Roger Federer’s Team 8 agency – as a presenter and commentator for the fourth edition of the Laver Cup, said she was uncomfortable with the way the allegations against one of Team Europe’s stalwarts had not been acknowledged by tennis authorities.
“Let me be clear: no one told me not to talk about Zverev. That conversation didn’t happen,” the 1977 French Open mixed doubles winner explained on the Behind The Racquet podcast, hosted by American player Noah Rubin and commentator Mike Cation.
“The biggest single reason I pulled away – the vibe they were trying to create, I was going to tread on that,” she added, suggesting that Zverev should not have been part of the event at all.
“They could have invited anyone to play in this thing. These are handpicked people.”
Zverev has been under fire since his former girlfriend Sharypova, herself a former tennis player, told her story twice to American journalist Ben Rothenberg (also a contributor to Tennis Majors) while indicating that she did not wish to bring the matter to court.
“I believe Olya. Why would she say all this if it’s not true?” said Carillo, adding that Sharypova’s stories included events that took place at the 2019 Laver Cup in Geneva.
“Ben did a hell of a job and it all got fact-checked.”
In this case, however, it is worth remembering that the presumption of innocence remains in place as there has not been any court judgement.
“CAN WE JUST COMMIT A LITTLE JOURNALISM?”
But Carillo is more interested in discussing the role and behaviour of commentators when dealing with this type of case. “Tennis Australia is a blue sky network. It’s a corporate deal, which I didn’t understand, honestly, until I got there, to Geneva a couple of years ago. I made a comment about [Nick] Kyrgios, he was playing great, the crowd were eating the dude up, he was playing to them, he was hitting crazy-ass shots, he loves playing with Jack Sock, he loves the team. I said this is a perfect outlet for him. He’s not fit enough to go three out of five. He can’t win majors, but look at this! I was spoken to about this…can we just commit a little journalism, just for the hell of it?”
Taboo or not, the Zverev affair nevertheless resurfaced during the Laver Cup with this widely reported exchange between Reilly Opelka and his captain John McEnroe. When the latter informed his squad of Zverev’s statement that Team World would not score a single point until the end of the weekend, the American player replied: “He also said he was innocent.” McEnroe responded with a “good point”.
How then could Carillo have broached the subject? This is the question she says she tried to ask beforehand with the producers, without getting what she judged to be a satisfactory answer.
“What we say or don’t say shapes opinion,” added Carillo. “You have to try to tell people who [the players] are and what they believe in.”
“A lot of people like the lifestyle that tennis television provides. They like being on the road. I’ve got a granddaughter, I like being home. I’m at a different stage.
“I don’t want to be a part of the silence. If you’re quiet, it suggests you’re complicit, you’re going along with something. I just don’t think that should keep going on.”