London | WTA updates Tour schedule as Peng Shuai talks to IOC

Last week, the WTA Tour released an updated tournament calendar for this season, outlining the schedule following the US Open that includes a combination of established WTA tournaments and new events for 2022, but did not disclose the venue for the season-ending WTA Finals.

She [Peng Shuai] is looking forward to be able to come to Europe, and to visit Lausanne, apparently, in particular, the Olympic Museum,. Then also, maybe, to watch one or the other tennis tournament. We have to see how this develops. The contact as we always said is ongoing. Thomas Bach, IOC President

“The 2022 WTA fall calendar will provide a robust amount of job opportunities for players in a regional calendar flow that will take us through to the end of the season,” said Steve Simon, WTA Chairman & CEO. “I am extremely grateful to all of our tournament organisers for their support of women’s tennis and their commitment to staging world class Hologic WTA Tour events.”

Significantly, there are no events taking place in China as the WTA is still working to find a resolution to the standoff with China over the Peng Shuai issue, and holds firm that the women’s tour will not return to the country this year.

Former doubles World No 1 Peng’s safety became a big concern after she posted a message on social media in November accusing China’s ex-Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault, which was quickly deleted before she disappeared from public view.

The WTA then suspended its events in China, a decision that is expected to cost the elite women’s tour millions of dollars in broadcasting and sponsorship.

In the absence of tournaments in China, the autumn schedule includes a new WTA 1000 event in Guadalajara, Mexico in October, and a WTA 500 event in San Diego, California, which will take place earlier in the month, while Tunisia will also host a new WTA 250 tournament.

This combination of file photos shows Peng Shuai at the Australian Open in 2017 and Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli (R) during a visit to Russia at the Saint Petersburg International Investment Forum in 2015

© Paul Crock and Alexander Zemlianichenko/AFP via Getty Images

According to reports, Peng has continued to speak with IOC officials since making a controlled appearance at the Beijing Winter Games, and says she wants to visit Europe soon, IOC President Thomas Bach said on Friday.

The fallout from Peng’s allegations last November was a serious distraction for Olympic organisers, and her interview with a French journalist in Beijing to retract her own claims, and later visits to watch medal events including with Bach, did not erase doubts about her personal safety.

The social media hashtag ‘Where Is Peng Shuai?’ continued to circulate since February.

Asked about Peng’s well-being in an online news conference, Bach said a phone call Peng had with IOC athletes commission members this month was a ‘second or third’ contact with her since the Olympics.

“She is looking forward to be able to come to Europe, and to visit Lausanne, apparently, in particular, the Olympic Museum,” the IOC leader said. “Then also, maybe, to watch one or the other tennis tournament.”

Bach noted the strict public health and quarantine policies in China during the COVID-19 pandemic could complicate Peng’s travel plans.

“We have to see how this develops. The contact as we always said is ongoing,” he said.

Spectators wearing 'Where is Peng Shuai?' T-shirts, expressing continued concern for the former doubles World No 1's well-being

© William West/AFP via Getty Images

Meanwhile, The absence of WTA events this year is another blow to China, which is quickly becoming an international sporting wilderness after it withdrew from hosting the 2023 Asian Cup soccer tournament due to the COVID-19 situation in the country.

That move came after Asian Games organisers postponed the next edition of the multi-sport event, due to be held in the Chinese city of Hangzhou in September, until 2023.

The WTA stated that there will be further updates to the calendar, including the location of the WTA Finals which is set to take place the week of 31 October. The tournament was held in Guadalajara last year.

Updates to the 2022 Hologic WTA Tour calendar include:

  • Week 30 (July 25) – WTA 250 BNP Paribas Poland Open relocates from Gdynia to Warsaw, Poland
  • Week 37 (September 12) – WTA 250 Japan Women’s Open in Osaka, Japan
  • Week 38 (September 19) – WTA 500 Toray PPO Tennis in Tokyo, Japan and WTA 250 Hana Bank Korea Open in Seoul, South Korea
  • Week 39 (September 26) – WTA 250 Tallinn Open in Tallinn, Estonia
  • Week 40 (October 3) – WTA 500 J&T Banka Ostrava Open in Ostrava, Czech Republic and WTA 250 Jasmin Open Tunisia in Monastir, Tunisia
  • Week 41 (October 10) – WTA 500 San Diego Open in San Diego, California and WTA 250 Transylvania Open in Cluj-Napoca, Romania
  • Week 42 (October 17) – WTA 1000 Guadalajara Open Akron in Guadalajara, Mexico

The fall schedule will also include 12 WTA 125 events throughout Europe and North and South America, bringing the total number of 125 events to at least 24 this season.

Click here for the full 2022 Hologic WTA Tour calendar.



Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.