‘My opinion is that it’s controlled.’ The head of the WTA thinks that messages from tennis player Pcheng Shui are being written by someone else iROZHLAS


The women’s tennis association WTA still has doubts about the safety of the former world number one in the Pcheng Shui doubles. “I think she has agreed on something with the Chinese government, but that’s how I feel. It seems staged to me, “said Steve Simon, director of WTA, in an exclusive interview for Radiožurnál and Radiožurnál Sport.



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The two-time grand slam winner in the doubles in early November announced that she had been the victim of a sexual assault by a former Chinese deputy prime minister. She has been missing since then and has only recently appeared in Chinese party media videos.

Listen to the entire interview with the WTA chief about the case of Chinese tennis player Pcheng Shui

The whole world is concerned about the situation with Chinese tennis star Pcheng Shui. Do you know where he is at the moment?
Yes, I think at the moment we are quite sure that Pcheng is in Beijing, in his apartment where he lives with his mother. He seems to be at home and seems fine.

I ask because of a phone call that took place on Sunday between International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach and Pcheng Shui, after which he mentioned that he was okay at home and wanted more privacy. Did this information reassure you?
On the one hand, it’s great that we know where it is. She seems to be fine, but it doesn’t change the situation from the whole point of view, because we still don’t know if anyone is forcing her into something, intimidating her and what led her to these attitudes. I’m afraid it’s controlled, it’s orchestrated. That is my view, and it certainly did not address our concerns, we still have not received any response as to the start of an independent investigation that is transparent and uncensored. Nothing like that.

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Thomas Bach said he picked up the phone and called her. But didn’t you try to call her directly?
Yes, we tried. Many people, but we did not get any direct answer. I received two emails from her that were consistent with what she shared with others to respect her privacy, writing that she was home and that she was fine. But we did not have any direct conversation with her.

Do you believe that these e-mails are written directly by Pcheng Shui or are they staged?
I think someone writes them for her. I think she has agreed on something with the Chinese Government, but that is my feeling. It seems staged to me.

What do you think of the photos and videos that appeared over the weekend showing the player at a dinner in Beijing with the China Open tournament director?
I have to repeat that I was glad to see Pcheng, he looks fine and we were able to find out where he is. But my opinion is that this is controlled.


I’m safe, the missing Chinese tennis player told the head of the Olympic committee. The videos also have to prove it

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Where do you think Pcheng Shui was on November 2 when she shared her first tweet? Do you think she was in China?
Of course, we don’t know for sure, but the fact that she is in China now probably means that she was even then. But we don’t know exactly.

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What exactly, as a WTA chief executive, do you want to make sure it’s okay and there’s no need to pursue further investigation?
Most importantly, we know that she is safe, that she can travel and say what she wants, without censorship, that she can live a normal life. Of course, it is also a question of whether further investigation is needed, because the allegations she has made are very serious. When someone comes up with such an accusation, it clearly requires an independent investigation, and based on that, we can decide on the next steps. You just can’t take such accusations lightly and sweep them under the rug

WTA also has offices in Beijing. So is there an employee who is trying to contact Pcheng in person?
Yes, we have a WTA team, which is also located in China, many members tried to contact Pcheng and the feedback was very similar, in the style that she is OK and that she wants us to respect her privacy.

Have you thought about going to China in person?
No, I haven’t thought about it at this stage.

So who are you specifically communicating with in China if it’s not Pcheng?
We continue to connect directly, we have WTA members in China who organize tournaments there, and there is also the Chinese Tennis Association.

We both know her very well, a lot of tennis personalities are trying to find her. What do you think is Pcheng Shui personally?
I talked to her a few times, it was always nice, cordial, but I wouldn’t dare say I knew her well. It was more of a business relationship because I run the WTA Tour and she is one of the tennis players. But our conversation was always very cordial.

In an interview with CNN, you mentioned that this situation is bringing you to a crossroads with China. Can you be more specific about what this could mean for the current nine tournaments in China, including the Masters?
I think I made myself clear. I think we are at a crossroads, and if we are not sure that Pcheng is OK, we want to reflect on that. We want to know that he is safe and free and that there will be an independent investigation. If this does not happen, we are ready that there will be no tournaments in China in the future. It’s a serious decision, politics, money play a role, and it can influence your decisions. This is how business works. But then there are other areas, especially social ones, such as human rights, and here these elements must not dictate to us how we decide. This is one such case where we have someone who has had the courage to make serious allegations of sexual assault and there is no room for compromise. We must not censor her voice, it is much bigger and more important than business.

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The aforementioned nine tournaments, including the Masters tournament, provide strong financial ground for the WTA. Is the organization able to survive in the post-Pidaid era without cooperating with China?
Yes, if it went that far, it would be very complicated and it would mean big problems for us, but we would be able to handle it. I’m sure we can handle it. It would not be without compromise, but as I said, there are certain things that are more important than business and money, and we could do it.

Andrea Sestini Hlavackova

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