(Reuters) – The WTA has confirmed the traditional season-opening Shenzhen Open will not take place in the first half of 2022, with the women’s tour staging events in January in Australia before following a conventional pattern until Wimbledon in June.
The WTA 250 tournament, which is usually played in the first week of the year, was held last year before events in China were wiped out due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The women’s tour has suspended its tournaments in China due to concerns over the treatment of former doubles world number one Peng Shuai.
It is unlikely the tournament would have gone ahead early this year anyway due to China’s travel restrictions.
The WTA said in a statement late on Monday that in the first half of next year the Tour will have five WTA 1000 events in Doha, Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid and Rome, along with eight WTA 500 events and at least 15 WTA 250 events.
“The 2022 WTA Tour calendar will once again provide a prestigious stage for the world’s best women’s tennis players to compete on,” WTA Chairman Steve Simon said.
It is the second half of the year when the WTA calendar is usually more crowded with events in China, with the world’s most populous country hosting nine tournaments in 2019 — the last full season before the spread of the novel coronavirus.
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by Peter Rutherford)