(Reuters) – Following are reactions after the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) on Wednesday announced the immediate suspension nL1N2SN04V of all events in China due to concerns about the well-being of former doubles world number one Peng Shuai.
The whereabouts of Peng, a three-time Olympian, became a matter of international concern after she posted a message on social media in early November alleging that China’s former Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli had sexually assaulted her.
Neither Zhang, who retired in 2018, nor the Chinese government have commented on Peng’s allegation.
Peng appeared in mid-November at a dinner with friends and at a children’s tennis tournament in Beijing, photographs and videos published by Chinese state media and the tournament organisers showed.
The International Olympic Committee had a 30-minute video call with Peng on Nov. 21 and held a second call nL1N2SN0NU on Wednesday.
UNITED STATES TENNIS ASSOCIATION
“The USTA commends the WTA and its Chairman, Steve Simon, its players, and tournaments for the leadership they have shown in protecting the rights of women, and the call for a full and transparent investigation into Peng Shuai’s sexual assault accusation.
“This type of leadership is courageous and what is needed to ensure the rights of all individuals are protected and all voices are heard.”
BILLIE JEAN KING, 78, FOUNDER OF WTA
“I applaud Steve Simon & the @WTA leadership for taking a strong stand on defending human rights in China & around the world. The WTA is on the right side of history in supporting our players.
“This is another reason why women’s tennis is the leader in women’s sports.”
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA, 65, 18-TIME GRAND SLAM CHAMPION
“This is a brave stance by Steve Simon and the WTA where we put principle above $ and stand up for women everywhere and particularly for Peng Shuai.
“Now – what say you, @IOC?!? #IOC – so far I can barely hear you!!! #WhereisPengShuai”
CHRIS EVERT, 66, 18-TIME GRAND SLAM CHAMPION
“Proud of Steve Simon and the @WTA for following through…hoping the rest of the powers of tennis, other sports, and even businesses follow suit… Now, let’s concentrate on finding Peng Shuai.”
NOVAK DJOKOVIC, 34, MEN’S WORLD NUMBER ONE
“I support fully WTA’s stance because we don’t have enough information about Peng Shuai and her well-being.
“It’s life of a tennis player that is in question here, so we, as the tennis community, need to stand together.”
ANDY RODDICK, 39, FORMER MEN’S WORLD NUMBER ONE
“There are a lot of organizations who can afford to do something like this a lot more than the WTA can… Respect.
“Doing the right thing is a lot easier when there aren’t associated costs. I continue to be proud to be in the tennis orbit.”
SHELBY ROGERS, 29, AMERICAN PLAYER
“Proud to be a part of an organization like the @WTA and proud of how we step up for our tennis family when it matters.”
JOHN MILLMAN, 32, AUSTRALIAN PLAYER
“Really strong stance. Far bigger things in the world than a game of tennis.”
KEVIN ANDERSON, 35, SOUTH AFRICAN PLAYER
“I applaud the WTA in making a very powerful statement, standing up for more than just tennis. Standing up for woman’s rights and voices.”
TENNYS SANDGREN, 30, AMERICAN PLAYER
“I am beyond proud of the @WTA for taking this stand. Yo men, let’s back the ladies up huh? We gonna sit this one out or what?”
LIAM BROADY, 27, BRITISH PLAYER
“Well done. Now all we need is a United response across all organisations. @ITFTennis @atptour”
DARREN CAHILL, 56, COACH AND FORMER PLAYER
“The WTA has shown an incredible amount of care, concern and leadership through this.
“Well done to Steve and his team. Big props (respect) also to the WTA Player Council who speak on behalf of the players as this decision affects all players but is the right thing to do.”
RENNAE STUBBS, 50, FORMER DOUBLES WORLD NUMBER ONE
“The stance from the @WTA & Steve Simon its CEO sends a very strong message to the CTA (Chinese Tennis Association) & the Chinese government that the WTA stands behind its players health and safety.
“We cannot honestly play tournaments there if we can’t get answers on one of our own’s safety. #togetherwestand”
(Compiled by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris)