The WTA Tour is set to return to China in 2023 after being suspended due to Peng Shuai’s situation.

Peng threatened to be cut off from the Chinese government after he accused retired Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of forcing her to have sex during years of an on-and-off relationship.

The immediate response from Chinese authorities was to censor references to the accusations online and block Peng’s Weibo account from search results.

Peng disappeared from public view for more than two weeks, prompting the world’s biggest tennis star and the United Nations to demand answers on her whereabouts and a full investigation into the allegations against Zhang.

Penn, a three-time Olympic and Grand Slam doubles champion, later denied making the sexual assault allegations.

In December 2021, Peng told Singapore-based Chinese-language newspaper Lianhe Zhaobao, “I have never spoken or written about someone sexually assaulting me.”

WTA President Steve Simon said when the WTA was banned in China, “Peng Shuai is not allowed to communicate freely and is under pressure to refute her sexual abuse allegations. I don’t know how you can ask players to play there when it looks like that.” attack.

“Given the current situation, we are also very concerned about the risks that all players and staff may face if we host our event in China in 2022.”

In a statement on Tuesday, the WTA said the season-ending WTA Finals will be held in Shenzhen, China in 2023, and will be held in Fort Worth, Texas this year, although it was originally scheduled to be held in the Asian country. rice field. , from 31 October.

CNN reached out to the WTA and Simon for comment now that the tour has decided to return to China.

In August, International Tennis Federation (ITF) president David Haggerty told CNN that he had spoken to Penn about six weeks ago and that she seemed fine.

Haggerty confirmed that he had never met Penn in person, but had spoken to her via videoconference.


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