“We don’t want to punish millions of people, so we will continue to organize both junior and senior tournaments that are currently on the ITF calendar in China.” These are the words by David Haggerty, president of the International Tennis Federation (ITF), to BBC.
“We must remember that the ITF is the governing body of the sport worldwide, and one of the things we have responsibility for is developing the roots of tennis,” continues Haggerty: “As a governing body of tennis, we support the woman rights.
Peng’s allegations need to be evaluated and we will continue to work directly and behind the scenes to resolve this situation. We will continue to analyze the situation, but we believe that the development of tennis and its availability around the world are really important elements,” concludes the president of the ITF.
A position that, therefore, differs considerably from that taken by Steve Simon, president of the association of professional tennis players, who in recent days had announced the cancellation of all WTA level tournaments scheduled between China and Hong Kong for the 2022, including the WTA Finals that were scheduled in Shenzhen.
A strong, courageous decision, which had a great media impact, but which did not receive a great deal of support. For example, the men’s association (ATP) limited itself to spreading a letter of support and little more.
WTA has right on Peng’s issue: ITF should do the same
However, there was no shortage of criticism for this clear-cut stance on the part of Steve Simon and the WTA he represents. Evidently, the figure of David Haggerty belongs to this second line of thought and, with him, also the ITF who, as mentioned, will not give up the Chinese stages of the 2022 calendar as regards both junior and senior tournaments.
What it seems is that WTA has right on Peng’s issue: ITF should do the same, not only protect (rightly) the economic interests of a movement, but also safeguard the physical and psychological integrity of its player.
On the delicate issue, Flavia Pennetta has also expressed herself in the last few hours. The former Italian champion made interesting statements to the Adnkronos news agency: “There are so many gray areas on this matter that only Peng Shuai can clear up. We only know that she disappeared on November 2nd after writing that post in which she accused a senior Chinese party official of abusing her and that Corriere della Sera published today.
In the last month she has only appeared in a tennis tournament in which she rewards some children. What I feel like saying is that the whole tennis family is with her. We hope to see you again soon to smile again and to be able to speak freely.
The associations of WTA and ATP players have done well to take a clear position and suspend tournaments in China until there is clarity on this sad story. We hope as soon as possible.”