Former tennis pros criticize ATP for not halting play in China with Peng Shuai safety concerns continuing
On Wednesday, Dec. 1, the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) announced suspension of all tennis events in China until the safety of Peng Shuai is confirmed.
Since this decision, the ATP (the men’s professional league) has yet to suspend its tournaments in China. ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi released a statement regarding the Shuai situation, but the ATP declined to answer any questions about whether or not it would suspend China events.
“The situation involving Peng Shuai continues to raise serious concerns within and beyond our sport,” Gaudenzi said, via a statement. “The response to those concerns has so far fallen short. We again urge for a line of open direct communication between the player and the WTA in order to establish a clearer picture of her situation. We know that sport can have a positive influence on society and generally believe that having a global presence gives us the best chance of creating opportunity and making an impact.”
MORE: What to know about ‘Where is Peng Shuai?’
Shuai’s safety and location remains unknown following a sexual assault claim she made against a former top Chinese government official on Nov. 2. Since the claim, Shuai has spoken with the International Olympic Committee via video call, but she has yet to speak to the WTA. This is why there are still concerns about her general safety.
WTA chairman Steve Simon released a statement to accompany the WTA’s announcement on Wednesday, in which he said he didn’t want to have to cancel the events, but he felt it was necessary to ensure the safety of Shuai and other WTA members.
“As a result, and with the full support of the WTA Board of Directors, I am announcing the immediate suspension of all WTA tournaments in China, including Hong Kong,” said Simon’s statement
. “In good conscience, I don’t see how I can ask our athletes to compete there when Peng Shuai is not allowed to communicate freely and has seemingly been pressured to contradict her allegation of sexual assault. Given the current state of affairs, I am also greatly concerned about the risks that all of our players and staff could face if we were to hold events in China in 2022.”
MORE: Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai tells IOC in video call that she is safe and well
Following this news from the WTA, a few former tennis professionals have criticized the ATP for not following suit. Former No. 1 Andy Roddick retweeted the ATP’s statement and said “how to say a lot of words and say nothing.”
Another former American professional Martina Navratilova also has retweeted criticizing comments about the ATP, and added some opinions herself.
While not many other tennis players have commented on the ATP’s announcement specifically, some current players have commented on Shuai’s safety, bringing light to her situation. Serena Williams, arguably the most famous women’s tennis player of all time, has tweeted about Shuai when the concern of her safety first began. Two of those players include former No. 1 Andy Murray and current No. 1 Novak Djokovic.
I am devastated and shocked to hear about the news of my peer, Peng Shuai. I hope she is safe and found as soon as possible. This must be investigated and we must not stay silent. Sending love to her and her family during this incredibly difficult time. #whereispengshuai pic.twitter.com/GZG3zLTSC6
— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) November 18, 2021
Female tennis player Peng Shuai whereabouts currently unknown after making Sexual abuse allegations against Chinese government official.
This speech gives us a reminder and some hope that things can change in the future 🙏 #WhereIsPengShuai https://t.co/eKnLCHcPLj
— Andy Murray (@andy_murray) November 19, 2021