The WTA made a bold decision to suspend all tournaments in China, putting pressure on this Asian country to investigate the Peng Shuai sexual assault case. As the world was eagerly awaiting to see whether the ATP would follow suit, for the time being men’s tennis remains reserved and only promises “to monitor any developments as this issue evolves”.
ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi issued a statement on December 2:
The situation involving Peng Shuai continues to raise serious concerns within and beyond our sport. The response to those concerns has so far fallen short. We again urge for a line of open direct communication between the player and the WTA in order to establish a clearer picture of her situation.
We know that sport can have a positive influence on society and generally believe that having a global presence gives us the best chance of creating opportunity and making an impact.
We will continue to consult with our members and monitor any developments as this issue evolves.
While the WTA’s decision has been embraced as very brave and the right thing to do, the ATP’s approach has been seen as more than disappointing. That is the conclusion we can make from reading reactions on social media.
Last month, former doubles world No.1 Peng Shuai accused former Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault. The WTA player’s testimony was posted on her official Weibo account and deleted within minutes. After making those claims, the professional athlete seemed to have disappeared and the entire WTA community was worried about her well-being.
On December 1, WTA CEO and Chairman Steve Simon informed us that he had finally learned where Peng was. Still, he continues to “have serious doubts whether she is free, safe and not subject to censorship, coercion and intimidation”.