Novak Djokovic says he "100% supports" WTA's threat to pull tournaments from China until Peng Shuai case is resolved

Novak Djokovic after beating Cameron Norrie
Novak Djokovic after beating Cameron Norrie

Following his win over Cameron Norrie in the ATP Finals on Friday, Novak Djokovic said he backed the WTA's threat to pull tournaments from China until solid evidence regarding Peng Shuai's safety was provided to the world.

Peng has been missing ever since she made allegations of sexual assault against a former Vice Premier of China. There has since been a growing chorus of voices demanding the tennis player be allowed to speak freely.

Chinese state media recently released an email allegedly written by Peng which claimed the allegations were untrue and that she was safe. However, the authenticity of the email has been called into question.

WTA Chairman Steve Simon recently said he would be willing to pull tournaments from China, regardless of the cost, to ensure Peng's safety.

Speaking to the media after his win over Norrie, Novak Djokovic admitted that China was a vital part of the WTA calendar but stressed that he was entirely on board with them being stripped of events until Peng is found to be safe.

"China is a huge country. It's a very important part of the world especially for WTA. They have many tournaments there," Novak Djokovic said. "I mean, this is necessary for us to take whatever actions. I heard just now from Reem (Reem Abuleil: Tennis Journalist) that WTA is willing to pull out from China with all the tournaments unless this is resolved. I support it 100%."

During his press conference, Novak Djokovic was also asked if he felt the ATP should follow the WTA's lead. The Serb did not provide a direct response to the question but revealed that he had received an update on the situation before his match against Cameron Norrie.

The update Djokovic was referring to was probably the photographs of Peng, which were apparently released on a Chinese social media site by one of her friends. However, they have not yet been verified.

"Just before the match today I heard - I'm not sure if this was the statement from her PR team - but there was some kind of statement about her," Novak Djokovic said.
"I don't know whether she was found or not. Correct me if I'm wrong. That's what I heard. Someone told me there was some kind of statement that went out there that she was kept I don't know if it was a prison, she was contained. I don't know. She didn't really have communication with everybody."
Peng Shuai’s WeChat moments just posted three latest photos and said “Happy weekend”. Her friend shared the three photos and the screenshot of Peng’s WeChat moments.

Djokovic then expressed his hope that Peng Shuai is found to be safe and healthy.

"I hope this is true, that she's found, that she's healthy, that everything is fine," Djokovic said. "If this is the case, okay, at least the worst is avoided."

Djokovic then reiterated his support for the WTA's threat to pull events from Chinese soil and said he understood their stance.

"I support the statement of WTA as an organization and also their president absolutely," Djokovic continued. "This can obviously happen to anybody. I mean, this is not common thing, obviously. We don't hear about it. I don't know if it ever has happened."
"The whole community, tennis community, needs to back her up and her family, make sure that she's safe and sound because if you would have tournaments on the Chinese soil without resolving this situation, it would be a little bit strange," Djokovic added. "I do understand why WTA has taken a stance like that."

"The actual meaning behind that statement and the message from PTPA is that we must stand together" - Novak Djokovic

Nitto ATP World Tour Finals - Day Six
Nitto ATP World Tour Finals - Day Six

The Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA), led by Novak Djokovic, recently posted a statement on the Peng Shuai issue, calling for strict and united action to be taken unless "corroborated evidence" regarding her well-being was provided.

"The Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA) is advocating for independent evidence confirming the safety and location of WTA player, Peng Shuai. There is nothing more important to us than the health, safety, and welfare of the players. We must unite and be willing to take action unless corroborated evidence is provided to the world about Peng's wellbeing," read the PTPA's statement.
Novak Djokovic shares the PTPA’s statement about Peng Shuai:“We must unite and be willing to take action unless corroborated evidence is provided to the work about Peng’s wellbeing” #WhereIsPengShuai

When asked to explain the term "corroborated evidence," Novak Djokovic said the statement was intended to call on people to stand together and support the Chinese player.

"The actual meaning behind that statement and the message from PTPA is that we must stand together," Novak Djokovic said. "Whether it's a male or female player, whether it's one player or more players, it's necessary. It's kind of logical that we stand behind trying to give support in one way or another, whatever that means."

Djokovic stressed that the PTPA was keen for the ATP and WTA to join forces to help resolve the issue.

"To unite means to come together and to figure out what kind of actions we can take, not just players, but players with ATP, WTA, kind of an initiated reaction from both ATP and WTA chairman," Djokovic added.

Edited by Arvind Sriram

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