Let’s talk about Peng Shuai and the WTA

This past week on the Babes Podcast, we briefly mentioned the situation happening with Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai (pronounced Pung-SHWHY). Let’s go more into depth about this situation because, well I really hope this goes without saying but, women deserve better.

(Photo by PAUL CROCK / AFP)

Last month, Shuai shared sexual assault allegations against a top Chinese communist official. Ever since, Shuai’s whereabouts and safety have been in question, and her name has been subject to censorship. The International Olympic Committee claimed they reached out to her and said she was safe, but that wasn’t enough of a guarantee for a lot of people, as it shouldn’t be. A lot of people are now saying, “prove it.” Just because I say that I’m not a crazy dog mom doesn’t mean I don’t let my dog sleep in bed with me. People lie.

So this declaration made by the IOC wasn’t good enough for WTA CEO & Chairman Steve Simon. In an unprecedented move, the Women’s Tennis Association released this statement, announcing that all tournaments will immediately be suspended in China and Simon has called for a full investigation of Shuai’s sexual assault allegations.

None of this is acceptable nor can it become acceptable. If powerful people can suppress the voices of women and sweep allegations of sexual assault under the rug, then the basis on which the WTA was founded – equality for women – would suffer an immense setback.

WTA Chairman and CEO, Steve Simon

The decision to suspend tournaments in China could cost the WTA hundreds of millions of dollars, but they’re setting an incredible example that their top priority is protecting their players, which is huge. It’s a shame it’s huge, but it is. Don’t athletes deserve to feel supported from the institutions that are making money off them? Why is it so hard to keep them protected and supported? I truly hope that other organizations (like the IOC and US Soccer) follow in the WTA’s footsteps. And most importantly, I hope that Peng Shuai is safe and her allegations are taken seriously because (I’ll say it again for those in the back) women deserve better.

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