Peng Shuai US Open 2014

WTA chief supports Peng Shuai and is ‘willing to pull business’ from China

WTA CEO and chairman Steve Simon has said he has no concerns about withdrawing events from China as the Peng Shuai situation “is bigger than business.”

The WTA have been one of the more vocal organisations when calling for clarification and investigation into Peng Shuai’s well-being, disappearance and censorship.

The WTA have even gone as far as to threaten China with an ultimatum that would withdraw ten events from China, including the WTA Finals, should they refuse or fail to cooperate with requests for a full, fair and transparent investigation into Peng Shuai’s sexual assault accusations.

French Open and Wimbledon doubles champion Peng Shuai alleged on November 2nd that former Chinese Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli coerced her into a sexual relationship.

Questions and concerns were raised globally when Peng’s original social media post was deleted within 30 minutes and she was not seen or heard from publicly in the following weeks.

Whilst Chinese state media have shown messages purportedly from Peng and images and videos of her at various social events, Steve Simon has failed to establish direct contact with Peng on numerous occasions.

The WTA subsequently released a number of statements that indicated they were not satisfied with the attempts to censor the accusations and China’s lack of investigation.

Speaking in an interview with American news network CNN, Simon said “we’re at a crossroads with our relationship with China and operating our business over there, there’s no question about it.”

“It’s something that’s actually very sad because we have some amazing relationships over there and have developed some unbelievable programs that are introducing the sport to a lot of young Chinese players that want to become the next Li Na (two-time Grand Slam champion), the next Peng Shuai, and all of those types of things so it’s very exciting.”

“We’ve had a lot success over there [in China].”

“I think that when you look at this, though, there are too many times in our world today when we get into issues like this and we let business, politics, money dictate what’s right and what’s wrong,” Simon claimed.

“We have a young person who has the fortitude to step up and make these allegations knowing full well what the results of that are going to be.”

“For us to not support that and demand justice as we go through it… We have to start, as a world, making decisions that are based upon right and wrong, period.”

“We can’t compromise that and we are definitely willing to pull our business [with China] and deal with all the complications that come with it because this is certainly bigger than the business.”

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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.