Tennis legend Chris Evert has backed Serena Williams’ comments about Alexander Zverev, after the US star claimed the German’s punishment for lashing out at a chair umpire should have been more severe.
Zverev was kicked out of the Mexican Open last month after a violent outburst saw him hit the chair umpire’s stand four times with his racquet, during a doubles match alongside partner Marcelo Melo.
The German forfeited more than $30,000 in prize money and was forced to pay $40,000 in fines for ‘unsportsmanlike conduct.’
After the tournament, the world number three said his expulsion was the “biggest mistake” of his tennis career and the “worst moment of his life” so far.
“But we all do mistakes. I’m also a human being, and I can guarantee you I will never act this way again in my life. It was definitely the worst moment of my life,” he said.
Many expected Zverev to face heavy sanctions but the ATP only handed the 24-year-old an eight-week ban, which was suspended.
The German is therefore competing at Indian Wells currently and won his opening doubles match with Andrey Golubev against Karen Khacanov and Dan Evans.
He also faces American’s Tommy Paul in the second round of the singles draw tomorrow.
Last week, tennis legend Williams was vocal in her condemnation of Zverev’s behaviour and argued that she’d “probably be in jail” if she’d done what he did.
In an interview with CNN, the 23-time major winner said: “There is absolutely a double standard.
“I would probably be in jail if I did that – like, literally, no joke.
“You see that [double standard] when you see other things happening on the tour, like, ‘wait – if I had done that?’ Hmm,” she added.
“But it is okay. At the end of the day, I am who I am, and I love who I am.”
Fellow tennis icon Evert has now come to the support of Williams and emphasised that she agrees with Williams’ suggestion that male and female players are treated differently.
Speaking to Eurosport, the former world number one said: “I wouldn’t go as far as saying she would go to jail, but I think she has a point and I think that definitely her consequences would have been far stricter than Zverev’s.
“Welcome to the world of men and women. I think it is a female and male issue. I agree with Serena.
“There would have been stricter consequences if she would have done it. I think the WTA would have put stricter consequences on any woman who would have done this.
“The umpire looked like he was in harm’s way. And that’s serious”.
While Zverev has been permitted to take part in California, Williams is still in the middle of an extended spell on the sidelines.
The 40-year-old hasn’t played since last year’s Wimbledon and missed the first major of the year at the Australian Open.
She is expected to miss Roland-Garros this season as well but could make her return at the All-England Club later this summer.