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"WTA, more like WTF, burying this in the middle of a Major in a press release" - Tennis fans fume as women's tennis is set to return to China in 2023 despite uncertainty over Peng Shuai

Tennis fans react to the return of WTA tennis tournaments to China in 2023
Tennis fans react to the return of WTA tennis tournaments to China in 2023

Tennis fans expressed their dissent after the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) recently confirmed that the tour will return to China in 2023, despite lingering uncertainty over the safety of Peng Shuai.

The WTA Finals will be held in Fort Worth, Texas, this year, but will return to Shenzhen, China, in 2023.

Late last year, the WTA banned China from hosting their tournaments owing to the country's controversial handling of Peng Shuai's allegations of sexual misconduct against a top Chinese government official. The authorities soon censored all talk about the issue in China and Shuai went missing for two weeks, leading to concerns being raised worldwide about her safety.

Shuai has made some public appearances since then, but there are still concerns about her safety and free will. While the issue is still prevalent, the WTA's announcement of a return to China for next year's season-ending finale has drawn many reactions from tennis fans.

Many opined that the WTA had changed its courageous stance on the matter, while others demanded more clarity.

"The WTA Finals going back to China??? WTA, more like WTF… Burying this in the middle of a major in a press release about Fort Worth?" one fan wrote on Twitter.
Thanks to @jon_wertheim for calling attention to this because I, like you may have, totally missed it:The WTA Finals going back to China??? WTA, more like WTF… Burying this in the middle of a major in a press release about Fort Worth? https://t.co/yORH9kfBqH
"Umm what?? How can you put your players back in that country after so much happened especially the way they didn't even bother to reply to WTA about the situation," read another tweet on the same.
Umm what?? How can you put your players back in that country after so much happened especially the way they didn't even bother to reply to WTA about the situation. Also don't understand tt being okay with this?? Like choose a side hun twitter.com/JosephWofford/…

In their statement, the WTA further stated that the decision had been made in co-operation with their long-term partner, Gemdale, a real estate investment and development company.

"The year-end finale, featuring the Top 8 singles players and doubles teams in the Race to the WTA Finals, will be held at the state-of-the-art Dickies Arena, with the event thereafter due to return to Shenzhen, China, in cooperation with long-term partner Gemdale," read the statement.

Here are a few more reactions from tennis fans to the announcement of the WTA Finals returning to China in 2023:

#WhereIsPengShuai The return to China makes no sense @WTA twitter.com/jon_wertheim/s…
@jon_wertheim @WTA Both venues are disappointing. Has China released Peng Shuai? How about women's rights in Texas, how is that going? You'd been so good up until this moment @WTA, please don't falter now.
@jon_wertheim @WTA If the contract with Shenzhen has not been terminated yet, they prob have to put their corporate face on until all legal issues are resolved. It's half a sentence right in the middle of everything designed to get as little attention as possible (obv not as little as they wanted)
WTAF?! respect gone, who tf thought going back to china was a good idea 💀💀 twitter.com/JosephWofford/…
@jon_wertheim @WTA They got hung out to dry. They made a stand and then no one supported them. @atp and @ITFTennis left them isolated.
Nothing changed… Rest assured that the Tour is deeply concerned by its relationships there and looks forward to cash on this ‘great’ opportunity. The only intangible lies in the players’ willingness or not to want to play in China. Likely depends on the size of the check! twitter.com/jon_wertheim/s…

Peng Shuai's retirement from professional tennis

2016 Wuhan Open - Day 2
2016 Wuhan Open - Day 2

Earlier this year, Peng Shuai announced her retirement from professional tennis and cleared the air regarding the controversy surrounding her. In an interview with L'Equipe, the former Chinese player said that her social media post had created a huge 'misunderstanding' and that she wanted no further mention of the same.

She announced her retirement in the same interview and highlighted how the coronavirus pandemic disrupted her life along with the lives of many others.

"The sudden arrival of this pandemic has rendered all our projects null and void. We are all going through this pandemic which is a huge challenge. We never imagined one day being faced with this, many competitions have been canceled. Everything is completely disrupted," the 36-year-old said.

Shuai's last professional match was at the Qatar Open in 2020, where she lost to Magdalena Frech in the first round of qualifying. She reached a career-high ranking of No. 14 and won two WTA singles titles in her career. Her best singles result at a Grand Slam was reaching the 2014 US Open semifinals and she also won the French Open and Wimbledon in doubles.

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Edited by Keshav Gopalan
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