(St. Petersburg) The WTA, the professional women’s tennis circuit, on Friday unveiled the tournament schedule scheduled for China this fall, after a four-year absence in the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic and then the Peng Shuai case.
Seven tournaments will take place in mainland China and Hong Kong in September and October.
The WTA 250 Guangzhou Open will be the first tournament held and will begin on Monday, September 18.
It will be followed by the Ningbo tournament (WTA 250) from September 25, then the China Open (WTA 1000) in Beijing from September 30. Other tournaments on the program: those of Zhengzhou (WTA 500), Hong Kong (WTA 250) and Nanchang (WTA 250), the week of October 9 and finally that Zhuhai from October 23.
With the exception of the Beijing Winter Olympics last year, which took place in a “bubble”, most sports came to a standstill in China after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic at the end of the year 2019.
The WTA had also suspended its events in China for 16 months, until last April, following the Peng Shuai affair.
The Chinese player, former world No.1 in doubles, had found herself at the heart of a state affair and a global crisis after accusing former Vice Prime Minister Zhang Gaoli, 40 years her senior, of of sexually assaulting her before making her his mistress.
The player disappeared a few days in November 2021 after posting a long message on the Chinese social network Weibo in which she denounced the top leader. She had reappeared in public several times, notably during the Beijing Winter Olympics, accompanied by regime officials.
If the WTA has not obtained all the guarantees on the fate of Peng Shuai, it has resolved to return to China, a country essential for its financing.
The Chinese market is also the most dynamic in the world, with no less than twenty million players according to figures from the International Tennis Federation (ITF).