Group stage matches of the 2022 WTA Finals kicked off at the Dickies Arena in Fort Worth last night and it was surprising to witness the meager number of spectators that turned out to watch the event.
Homegirl Jessica Pegula locked horns with Maria Sakkari in the opening encounter of the WTA Finals. With little to no spectators to cheer for the American, Pegula did not seem to relish any home advantage in the fixture. The match took place in an almost empty arena with only a few hundred people scattered here and there in the stands.
Tennis journalist and author Jon Wertheim was shocked to witness the number of spectators that appeared at the event, considering that the WTA Finals is supposed to be the event that generates the greatest source of revenue. Wertheim, therefore, was of the opinion that the event should be moved back to China, where it was held before the COVID pandemic hit.
"This is why you go back to China, "partner" w/ Venture Capital , etc...remember, too, this event is supposed to be the tour's greatest source of revenue", wrote Wertheim.
Jon Wertheim also questioned the WTA on the Peng Shuai issue, the incident that led to the organization canceling all events in China. The journalist urged the Association to make public the findings from investigations made by the Chinese government on the sexual assault case, which was one of the conditions demanded by the WTA's chairman Steve Simon.
Wertheim would want the sport to be back in China considering the staggering lack of crowd support in Texas, provided that the investigation is satisfactory and that it is justifiable to allow players back into the country.
"Long as we are here…Wednesday will mark the one-year anniversary of Peng Shuai’s cri de coeur ….a question for WTA: can you share with fans/public the results of the investigation you requested; which presumably assuage concerns + justify your decision to return to China!", Wertheim wrote in his tweet.
News of the sexual assault on former tennis player Peng Shuai broke with the player herself coming forth with the accusation that she was assaulted sexually by a Chinese government leader.
The WTA thereby decided to suspend China from hosting tennis until the safety of players is ensured. The latest news suggests that the WTA has repealed the suspension and they look forward to conducting events in China from 2023.
WTA Finals kickstarts with Maria Sakkari trumping Jessica Pegula and Aryna Sabalenka taking down Ons Jabeur
Maria Sakkari went all out in the opening fixture of the 2022 WTA Finals to outclass Jessica Pegula in straight sets. Sakkari took revenge on the American in the process, as the 27-year-old faced a humiliating defeat last week when the two players matched off in the final of the Guadalajara Open.
In the second fixture of the day, World No. 2 Ons Jabeur was outfoxed by Aryna Sabalenka, who came back from a set down to take the contest in three sets. On Day 2, Iga Swiatek will face off against Daria Kasatkina, while Coco Gauff locks horns with Caroline Garcia.