WTA Suspends All Tournaments In China With Immediate Effect - UBITENNIS
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WTA Suspends All Tournaments In China With Immediate Effect

In a statement WTA CEO Steve Simon says the decision has been made following concerns raised about the welfare of Peng Shuai.

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The Women’s Tennis Association has suspended all of their tournaments in both China and Hong Kong due to what they described as a failure by the Chinese government to address serious claims of sexual harassment made by Peng Shuai against a former senior official.

Shuai, who is a two-time Grand Slam champion and former world No.1 in doubles, published a post on her Weibo account on November 2nd accusing former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli of pressuring her into having sex with him. She also said the two have a one-and-off affair over a 10-year period. The post was deleted less than an hour after publication and her Weibo account is still under restriction. Shuai has not spoken in public since that post but has conducted a private video call with the IOC and two other members. One of which has links to the Chinese government. Meanwhile, state media outlets have previously published videos and photos of the tennis star claiming that she is well.

However, the WTA has repeatedly voiced concerns that Shuai is being censored by authorities due to the allegations she made against a former government official. CEO Steve Simon told reporters that he has repeatedly tried to contact Shuai but failed to get through. He has received two emails from Shuai, which was leaked online, purporting to be from her. However, the organisation believes Shuai wrote them under the influence of others.

“Chinese officials have been provided the opportunity to cease this censorship, verifiably prove that Peng is free and able to speak without interference or intimidation, and investigate the allegation of sexual assault in a full, fair and transparent manner. Unfortunately, the leadership in China has not addressed this very serious issue in any credible way,” Simon said in a statement.
“While we now know where Peng is, I have serious doubts that she is free, safe and not subject to censorship, coercion and intimidation. The WTA has been clear on what is needed here, and we repeat our call for a full and transparent investigation – without censorship – into Peng Shuai’s sexual assault accusation.”

Now in a dramatic turn of events, Simon has suspended all WTA events taking place in China next year after receiving backing from the board of directors. A sensational development given the country has generated millions of pounds in revenue for the Tour in recent years and has been a key area for their development as a business. In 2022 China was set to host 10 events which include the prestigious season-ending WTA Finals. A tournament which has the biggest prize money pool for women outside of the four Grand Slams. However, no tournament was held in the country in 2020 or 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With the full support of the WTA Board of Directors, I am announcing the immediate suspension of all WTA tournaments in China, including Hong Kong,” Simon stated. “In good conscience, I don’t see how I can ask our athletes to compete there when Peng Shuai is not allowed to communicate freely and has seemingly been pressured to contradict her allegation of sexual assault. Given the current state of affairs, I am also greatly concerned about the risks that all of our players and staff could face if we were to hold events in China in 2022.”

The WTA has said that they are willing to do whatever it takes to protect their players regardless of the financial ramifications which may occur.

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Jannik Sinner reaches his second consecutive semifinal in Monte-Carlo

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Second seed Jannik Sinner battled past Holger Rune 6-4 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 after 2 hours and 41 minutes to reach his second consecutive semifinal at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. Sinner becomes the only player to reach the semifinals at all three Masters 1000 tournaments this season. 

Sinner has drawn level to 2-2 in his four head-to-head matches against Rune. 

Sinner has improved to 14-2 against top 10 opponents since last September. 

Sinner set up a semifinal clash against 2021 and 2022 Monte-Carlo champion Stefanos Tsitsipas, who beat Karen Khachanov 6-4 6-2 in the quarter final. Tsitsipas has a career win-loss record of 18-3 in Monte-Carlo. 

Rune did not convert a break point in the fourth game of the first set. Sinner earned the only break of the opening set in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. Neither player earned a single break point in the next games. Sinner held on his next service games and served out the first set with a hold at love. 

Rune recovered from 0-40 to hold for 3-2. The Danish player fended off three break points at 6-5 to hold serve at deuce. Sinner earned two set points at 6-4 in the tie-break, but Rune fired a winner to start a four-point streak to clinch the tie-break 8-6. 

Rune held his second break point at 2-2 30-40, but Sinner saved it before winning 12 of the final 15 points to win the third set 6-3 improving his win-loss record to 25-1 this season. “It took a lot to win this match. Playing against Rune is never easy, especially on this kind of occasion, so I am very happy that I won today but mostly about the level I gave. I raised it today a little bit. It was more physical, there were more rallies today. My general feelings were better, so I am very excited about tomorrow’s match. Even I lose today, I learn again, so I am very happy about today. It has been  a very tough match. I am very happy about the win”, said Sinner.

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Injury Heartbreak Motivates Australia In Billie Jean King Cup Tie With Mexico

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SEVILLE, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 09: Storm Hunter of Team Australia reacts during the Billie Jean King Cup Finals group stage match between Australia and Kazakhstan at Estadio de La Cartuja on November 09, 2023 in Seville, Spain. (Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images for ITF)

The captain of the Australian Billie Jean King Cup team says they are supporting one of their top players after she suffered a serious injury on the eve of their latest tie. 

Storm Hunter, who is currently ranked No.3 in the world for doubles, has suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon whilst training at a practice session on Thursday with her teammates. The severity of the injury means she will almost certainly be forced to pull out of this summer’s Olympic Games where she would have been a medal contender, as well as both the French Open and Wimbledon. Hunter has already won a WTA 1000 title this season in Dubai and was also runner-up in Indian Wells. In both of those tournaments, she was partnering Kateřina Siniaková. 

“Unfortunately yesterday in our last practice before the tie, I went down and scans last night confirmed that I have ruptured my Achilles tendon,” said Hunter.
“I am devastated and heartbroken, but incredibly grateful to be around the team and I know I have a great group of people around me that will help me get back on the court as soon as possible.
“Thank you everyone so much everyone for your messages of support and love. I’m excited to stay for the tie and support our Aussie girls.”

According to the Australian press, team captain Sam Stosur said Hunter’s teammates are ‘rallying behind‘ her and “wishing her the very, very best and the quickest recovery possible.”

As a result of the injury, Daria Saville was brought in to play in her country’s singles match on the opening day of their tie against Mexico on Friday. The world No.94 was in top form as she charged to a comprehensive 6-1, 6-0, win over Marcela Zacarias in less than an hour. 

“Yesterday was a pretty tough day for all of us, pretty emotional,” said Saville who has undergone surgery on her Achilles in the past. 
“It’s so nice to have Stormy here supporting us. Not long ago that kind of happened to me … so we’re giving Stormy a lot of love. 
“I felt like I was pretty determined and clearly that showed.”

Despite the blow, Australia is on the verge of beating Mexico. In the other singles match on the opening day, Arina Rodionova came back from a set down to beat Giuliana Olmos 3-6, 6-3, 6-1. With a 2-0 lead, they only need one more win to clinch the tie. 

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Great Britain is looking to avenge defeat against France in Billie Jean King Cup tie

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France and Great Britain have drawn together once again after a thrilling Billie Jean King Qualifier tie last year.

France will take on Great Britain for the fifth time in Billie Jean King Cup. In their most recent clash France beat Great Britain 3-1 in a tight Qualifier one year ago on an indoor hard court in their first tie since 1981. Caroline Garcia and Alizé Cornet won their singles matches against Katie Boulter and Harriet Dart. 

Great Britain is looking to avenge last year’s result. 

The French team features Caroline Garcia, Karoline Mladenovic, Clara Burel and Diane Perry in a mix of experienced and young players. French captain Julien Benneteau was part of the Davis Cup-winning team in 2017. Benneteau is one of the select players to have beaten Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. 

Benneteau was named Billie Jean King Cup captain in 2018 and led France to victory against Australia in the Final in 2019. 

France was narrowly defeated by Italy in the group stages at the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup Finals in Seville. 

Great Britain won their Play-Off tie against Sweden. Katie Boulter scored two thrilling singles wins. 

British captain Anne Keothavong, who won 22 matches during her playing career in the Billie Jean King Cup, has named world number 28 Katie Boulter, Harriet Dart, Heather Watson and 2021 US Open champion Emma Raducanu. 

Raducanu will make only her second appearance in the British team at this event. She missed most of the 2023 season after undergoing surgery on both wrists and her ankle. 

Boulter and Raducanu have been selected to play singles. 

Boulter will play against Diane Perry in the opening match. Raducanu will take on Garcia in the second match. 

Bolulter has a good chance to qualify for the Olympic Games at Paris Roland Garros. The British player, who won the San Diego Open this year, has not played a professional match on clay. Both the Billie Jean King Cup tie at the Chaudron Le Portel and the Olympic Games will be held on this surface. 

“The Olympics is always something I wanted to play as a kid and that is certainly a priority. I will be playing if I can, and I am looking forward to being a part of something which isn’t only tennis. I am sure it would be an experience I won’t forget”, said Boulter. 

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