In 2021, when Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai bravely came forward, the WTA took a stance and suspended its operation of events in China out of concern for her safety and the safety of our players and staff. When we moved forward with this decision, we were not sure if others would join us. We received much praise for our principled stand and believe we sent a powerful message to the world. But praise alone is insufficient to bring about change.
After 16 months of suspended tennis competition in China and sustained efforts at achieving our original requests, the situation has shown no sign of changing. We have concluded we will never fully secure those goals, and it will be our players and tournaments who ultimately will be paying an extraordinary price for their sacrifices.
For these reasons, the WTA is lifting its suspension of the operation of tournaments in the People’s Republic of China (“PRC”) and will resume tournaments in China this September.
Through our time and commitment in China over the past 20 years, the WTA has made significant progress in creating a pathway and opportunity for women athletes to pursue tennis as a career and for tennis to become a focus of recreational activity in the country. With the suspension, we forfeited our ability to provide women in the region with opportunities to advance professionally through tennis and be role models for future generations.
We have not been able to achieve everything we set out for, but we have been in touch with people close to Peng and are assured she is living safely with her family in Beijing. We also have received assurances that WTA players and staff operating in China will be safe and protected while in the country. The WTA takes this commitment seriously and will hold all parties responsible.
While we do not regret our decision on the suspension, the WTA and its members feel that now is the time to return to our mission in China. We are hopeful that by returning more progress can be made.
Peng cannot be forgotten through this process. It is important that our renewed engagement in China provides continued safety for Peng and all the women athletes who will benefit from our return to competition and the opportunities tennis provides. It is essential that women’s voices must be heard when speaking out. The WTA will continue to advocate for Peng and the advancement of women around the world.