The WTA on Sunday stood up to its most lucrative client in the sport, with tennis boss Steve Simon addressing the disappearance of Grand Slam doubles champion and former No. 1 Peng Shuai.
The 35-year-old who won Wimbledon in 2013 and Roland Garros a year later, has not been seen on the Tour since the 2020 Australian Open.
Reports from China, host of nearly a dozen WTA events and de facto prize money paymaster for the Tour, say that the player has disappeared after launching sexual harassment accusations at a top politico.
Concern has ramped up over the past 10 days, with her Weibo social media account deleted and the national tennis federation remaining stonily silent of the mystery.
“The recent events in China concerning a WTA player, Peng Shuai, are of deep concern,” the American boss said in a statement.
“As an organization dedicated to women, we remain committed to the principles we were founded on – equality, opportunity and respect.
“Peng Shuai, and all women, deserve to be heard, not censored. Her accusation about the conduct of a former Chinese leader involving a sexual assault must be treated with the utmost seriousness.
“In all societies, the behavior she alleges that took place needs to be investigated,`not condoned or ignored. We commend Peng Shuai for her remarkable courage and strength in coming forward. Women around the world are finding their voices so injustices can be corrected.
“We expect this issue to be handled properly, meaning the allegations must be investigated fully, fairly, transparently and without censorship.”
Simon added: “Our absolute and unwavering priority is the health and safety of our players. We are speaking out so justice can be done.”
The International Tennis Federation, which runs the four Grand Slams and other non-Tour events, has remained silent in the case.
All reference to Peng have been blocked in China after she used her social media account to accuse a top political bossformer Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of coercing her into sex, and trying to make her his mistress.
Main photo:- Peng Shuai in US Open 2014 – Roger Parker International Sports Fotos Ltd