WTA Tour to return to China in 2023 after suspension due to situation in Peng Shuai


Peng was feared to be held incommunicado by the Chinese government after she accused retired Deputy Prime Minister Zhang Gaoli of coercing her into sex during a years-long on-off relationship.

The immediate response from the Chinese authorities was to censor any mention of the allegation online and to block Peng’s Weibo account from search results.

Peng disappeared from public view for more than two weeks, prompting the world’s biggest tennis stars and the United Nations to demand answers about her whereabouts — as well as a full investigation into her allegations against Zhang.

Peng, a three-time Olympic champion and grand slam champion in doubles, later denied alleging the assault.

“I have never spoken or written about anyone who has sexually abused me,” Peng told Singapore-based Chinese-language newspaper Lianhe Zaobao in December 2021.

WTA President Steve Simon stated at the time of the WTA ban in China: “I don’t see how I can ask our athletes to participate there if Peng Shuai is not allowed to communicate freely and has seemingly been pressured to back up her allegation of sexual assault. raid.

“Given the current state of affairs, I am also very concerned about the risks to all our players and staff if we were to hold events in China in 2022.”

In Tuesday’s statement, the WTA said the season-closing WTA final will be held in Shenzhen, China, in 2023, while this year’s edition — originally slated to be hosted in the Asian nation — will be held in Fort Worth, China. Texas, early October 31.

CNN has reached out to the WTA and Simon for comment now that the tour has decided to return to China.

In August, David Haggerty, president of the International Tennis Federation (ITF), told CNN that he spoke to Peng about six weeks ago and she appears to be safe.

Haggerty admitted that he had not seen Peng in person, but had spoken to her via video conference.

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