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Peng Shuai - Indian Wells 2017

WTA makes China U-turn with requests ‘not going to be met’


The WTA has decided to overturn their decision to suspend all events in China, after sexual assault allegations were made by former No.14 Peng Shuai in 2021.

Tournaments in China were originally halted due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but events were later suspended when the two-time doubles Grand Slam champion accused the country’s former vice premier of sexual assault in a post on social network Weibo.

The WTA said that they would not return to China until they were happy that Peng was safe, but CEO Steve Simon has now claimed that his requests were not being met.

“We’re currently convinced that the requests that we put forth are not going to be met. And, with that, to continue with the same strategy doesn’t seem to make sense, and we need a different approach,” said Simon.

He continued, “Our members believe it’s time to resume our mission in China, where we believe we can continue to make a positive difference, as I think we have over the last 20 years when we’ve been there, while at the same time making sure that Peng is not forgotten and that we can, by returning, make some progress.”

Following the allegations, Peng made a public appearance at the Winter Olympics in Beijing and spoke to the president of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach.

Peng also gave interviews claiming that her post on Weibo was ‘misunderstood’ and that she had not made sexual assault accusations.

The WTA originally wanted a transparent investigation to Peng’s disappearance, as well as proof that she was ‘able to speak without interference or intimidation’.

Simon has revealed that while they have not heard from her directly, people close to the former No.1 doubles player have ‘assured’ the WTA that she is living safely with her family in Beijing.

WTA events in China

There are five events on the WTA calendar that take place in China, including the year-end WTA Finals in Shenzhen.

Here are the most recent winners of these events, that includes Peng Shuai, with all taking place in 2019 bar Hong Kong in 2018:

WTA Finals

Shenzhen

Singles – Ash Barty

Doubles – Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic

WTA Elite Trophy

Zhuhai 

Singles – Aryna Sabalenka

Doubles – Lyudmyla Kichenok and Andreja Klepac

WTA 1000

Beijing 

Singles – Naomi Osaka

Doubles – Sofia Kenin and Bethanie Mattek-Sands

Wuhan (WTA 1000)

Singles – Aryna Sabalenka

Doubles – Duan Yingying and Veronika Kudermetova

WTA 500

Zhengzhou

Singles – Karolina Pliskova

Doubles – Kveta Peschke and Nichole Melichar-Martinez

WTA 250

Zhengzhou

Singles – Karolina Pliskova

Doubles – Kveta Peschke and Nichole Melichar-Martinez

Guangzhou 

Singles – Sofia Kenin

Doubles – Peng Shuai and Laura Siegemund

Nanchang 

Singles – Rebecca Peterson

Doubles – Lin Zhu and Xinyu Wang

Hong Kong 

Singles – Dayana Yastremska

Doubles – Samantha Stosur and Zhang Shuai

The aforementioned WTA finals in Shenzhen are on a 10-year contract and Simon has suggested that they will now be held until 2031.

The most recent winner Ash Barty received a record $4.42 million in 2019, but Simon has denied that the financial incentive was part of the decision to return to China.

“This decision wasn’t made based upon the finals deal in any way, shape or form. It was based upon what was in the best interest of the organisation, and we felt this was in that best interest. Will it be good for our balance sheet and those types of things, yes it will, but that wasn’t the basis for the decision,” claimed the WTA CEO.

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