Tennis tour CEO still wants Peng Shuai inquiry


The man in command of girls’s skilled tennis, Steve Simon, has been sitting shut sufficient to the motion on the season-ending WTA Finals this week — from a seat in entrance of the entrance row, as courtside as could be — {that a} participant simply might wander over for a mid-match chat.

Hasn’t occurred. Probably will not, after all. Simon does say he interacts with the game’s athletes a lot year-round — “I’m not pen buddies with all of them, per se; I’m not going to flop down on the couch subsequent to them, per se … however I believe we’ve got a superb relationship” — and listens to their considerations, a lot of which recently could be summed up by one explicit phrase.

“Everyone’s on the lookout for stability,” WTA Tour Chairman and CEO Simon stated throughout an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday at Dickies Arena, which has a one-year deal to host the event for the highest eight singles gamers and prime eight doubles groups by way of subsequent Monday, earlier than giving solution to the positioning’s traditional mixture of monster vehicles, rodeo reveals, indoor lacrosse and live shows by acts corresponding to George Strait and the Eagles.

One unresolved concern for Simon, with an underlying trigger that troubles him and gamers alike, is when the tour’s occasions, together with the WTA Finals, will return to China. A yr in the past, the WTA suspended all tournaments in that nation due to considerations concerning the security of Peng Shuai, a Grand Slam doubles champion who accused a former authorities official there of sexual assault. Simon needed a full and clear inquiry into her allegations and an opportunity for the tour to speak together with her — none of which has occurred but.

Peng instantly disappeared from public view, then tried to recant. She would not depart China and was a part of fastidiously orchestrated appearances through the Beijing Olympics in February.

“All I can do is consider her and hope she’s doing nicely,” stated Coco Gauff, an 18-year-old American entered in singles and doubles in Fort Worth. “We had been informed she is, however you by no means know.”

IOC president Thomas Bach, left, is proven talking with Chinese tennis participant Peng Shuai, proper, through the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games. (Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Shenzhen, China, was supposed to carry the WTA Finals by way of 2030, however the pandemic scrapped these plans in 2020 and 2021. Simon doesn’t know what is going to occur in 2023, promising a call “no later than the tip of the primary quarter of subsequent yr.”

“We hope that that is the place we’ll be,” he stated, “however, clearly, we’ve got some points to resolve.”

He named two: Peng’s state of affairs and lingering coronavirus restrictions.

“We do must resolve Peng. … We’re snug that she’s protected, and we all know she’s in Beijing, which is nice. We need that. But we have not obtained the assurances that we would like with respect to the investigation that we requested,” Simon stated. “What’s the actual story? That’s all we have requested for. What’s the story? She clearly had nice braveness to come back ahead with what she stated. The rules which are concerned are proper consistent with what we stand for as a corporation. And what we have requested for is an investigation to grasp what occurred, what did not happen, after which handle it appropriately.”

The placement of the WTA Finals in Fort Worth wasn’t introduced till September — the scheduling that positioned it proper earlier than the Billie Jean King Cup Finals in Scotland subsequent week drew some criticism — and there have been hundreds of empty seats through the first two days of competitors.

Simon referred to as it “a really last-minute vacation spot” and referred to the venue as “in all probability slightly large for us, however an exquisite enviornment.”

Even No. 1-ranked Iga Swiatek made observe of that, telling the group after her victory Tuesday evening: “Hopefully we’ll see a full home quickly.”

Halep suspension

Simon stated he is spoken with Simona Halep, the two-time Grand Slam champion and former top-ranked participant who was provisionally suspended 1 1/2 weeks in the past after testing constructive for a banned substance on the U.S. Open in August.

“I imagine her that she did not deliberately do one thing right here. That being stated, I do imagine very strongly in our anti-doping program, and I believe it is a good one, and our gamers help it, too. And for those who ask Simona, she helps it,” Simon stated. “I’m very assured that as we undergo the method, the reality goes to come back out, and we’ll take care of it accordingly. But I’ve a whole lot of sympathy for Simona, as a result of I’d by no means query her integrity.”


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