Novak Djokovic US Open 2021

Djokovic backs WTA China withdrawal saying, ‘I support it 100%’

World number one Novak Djokovic supports the WTA’s threat to pull events from China amidst the Peng Shuai censorship and disappearance controversy.

Chinese doubles player Peng Shuai had reportedly gone missing after alleging former Chinese Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli of forcing her into a sexual relationship.

Peng made the accusations through Chinese social media website Weibo but her post was removed just 20 minutes after being posted.

This led to global concern and a large number of tennis players speaking out about the situation, including Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, and Andy Murray, as well as many others.

Djokovic has previously spoken out regarding Peng Shuai and was one of the first to do so when he said he was “shocked” by the ordeal, but has now described the situation as “horrifying.”

As concerns grew stronger, Chinese state media outlet CGTN released an email purported to be from Peng herself which said her claims were false and that she was safe.

Although this only escalated worries further as WTA CEO and chairman Steve Simon found it “hard to believe” Peng wrote the email.

In the past week, images and videos of Peng have emerged through state-affiliated journalists via Twitter. Images of Peng playing with a cat and some toys at her home were first released, followed by videos of Peng at a restaurant and a tennis event in Beijing.

In a press conference following his ATP Finals victory over Cameron Norrie, 20-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic said he completely backs the WTA’s threat to pull tournaments from China should they refuse to cooperate.

“I’m really glad that there was a kind of an initiated reaction from both ATP and WTA Chairmen and it’s important because this is horrifying. A person is missing.”

“China is a huge country, it’s a very important part of the world, especially for the WTA, they have many tournaments there.

“I mean, this is necessary for us to take whatever actions, and I heard just now from Reem [Abulleil, journalist] that [the] WTA is willing to pull out from China with all the tournaments unless this is resolved, I support it 100%.”

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Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.