Reuters reported on April 25 that The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) is forgoing tournaments in China this year as it seeks to resolve the deadlock over the Peng Shuai case.
Tour chief Steve Simon told The Tennis Podcast, “We remain dedicated to finding a resolution to this.”
He added, “We want to find a resolution that Peng can be comfortable with, the Chinese government can be comfortable with, and we can be comfortable with. We are not about walking away from China. We have suspended our operations there right now. We will continue to do that until we get to a resolution.”
Peng is a three-time Olympian and three-time grand slam doubles winner.
There are concerns that Peng Shuai has been held incommunicado by the Chinese government after coming out about her years-long on-off romance with Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli online last year. She particularly accused him of sexually coercing her at the beginning.
Peng mysteriously vanished from public view for three weeks afterward, with sporadic reemergences that critics said were stage-managed. That includes the Winter Olympics attendance, where she withdrew her previous allegations and said she deleted the post herself.
Since the beginning, the WTA has been among the most active voice demanding transparency and justice for the tennis player. It called off tournaments in China last December and continued to press for a thorough and honest investigation into Peng’s allegations.
WTA chief Simon repeated that call on the Tennis Podcast, saying, “We will stay resolute. We do hope to be back there in 2023 with the resolution that shows progress was made in the space. That’s a victory for the world if we can accomplish that.”
Simon noted the WTA has been seeking to arrange a private discussion with her, but to no avail.
He said, “We have not had any recent communication with Peng and the world has not seen Peng since the Olympics either.”
He added, “I don’t think you will make change in this world by walking away from issues. You have to create change. It might not be everything we want. But we have to find a solution that finds that balance that allows us to go back and see progress in the area.”
While there has been evidence of collaboration between the ATP Tour and the WTA since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the men’s Tour has remained in China and will stage four tournaments this season.
Simon said he respected the ATP’s stance and would not try to “influence their decision in any way,” adding that it “has to be theirs.”
He said, “Their difference is that … they don’t have a member that’s affected there. They will have to make their own decisions at this point of time.”