The executive chairman of the Women’s Tennis Association, Steve Simon, has acknowledged that a “delay” in investigating WTA member Peng Shuai’s “treatment of her opponent” at a WTA event earlier this year led to him failing to adequately address the matter.
Peng, the No. 4 player on the WTA’s singles rankings, was arrested in August for hurling a chair chair at CoCo Vandeweghe during a WTA final in Hong Kong.
The treatment of Quan-Long Wang was, by most accounts, vile, and Simon, in an interview with ESPN’s Andy Madson, said the WTA “did not have the benefit of both sets of evidence at that time.” Simon also conceded that Peng’s treatment of Wang “should not have happened,” and said that the WTA “will not hesitate to take the appropriate measures to protect the rights of our players.”
Peng allegedly pushed Wang out of the way of a court-side interview, placed a chair across the red line between the two players and prevented Wang from speaking to reporters after the match.
“With respect to Peng,” Simon said, “I will not make any comment and I certainly want to let her speak for herself, but what we knew at the time from Chen Meng, the tournament director, and from Carolyn Walker, the WTA Tour CEO, was that she had finished her match.”
Peng was named among an inaugural class of officers of the Players Association of China in October, but on Friday she denied being involved in any instance of physical or verbal abuse of a competitor, telling Sports Illustrated: “I have never been involved in any physical or emotional abuse of anyone. I have never hit anyone on the court, outside the court, in the dining hall or anywhere, ever, ever. That is a lie. That is total and complete defamation.”
Vandeweghe said she believed Peng to be “a wonderful person” and that Peng’s “behaviour throughout her career has always been about teamwork and sportsmanship.” WTA board member Jamie Burnett, in a response posted on the WTA’s Twitter account, said: “It is my belief that the process of an investigation conducted by the WTA will conclude that Peng should not be sanctioned.”