WTA out of China, in with ATP? Bartoli working with investment fund

The WTA have threatened to withdraw their business from China and may soon be working more closely with the ATP if one former Wimbledon champion has her way

Karolina Pliskova, 2019

Rumours are continuing to circulate that the WTA circuit may soon be much less dependent on China – and they were given further fuel when Marion Bartoli told Eurosport that she has been working for two years with an investment fund that would like to develop the merger between the ATP and WTA.

The fund “has already done big deals in the sports world”, according to the 2013 Wimbledon champion. In concrete terms, this could mean that WTA 1000s will be added in cities where no women’s events are held alongside Masters 1000s – for example, the Rolex Paris Masters in Bercy at the beginning of November.

At the end of October, ATP president Andrea Gaudenzi told L’Equipe about the project to combine the Masters 1000 and WTA 1000 over two weeks.

“We would like to organise the Masters 1000 over two weeks, with draws of 96 men and women together. Exactly on the model of Indian Wells and Miami,” he said.

“Everything is extremely detailed and rigorous,” Bartoli added. “The most important thing was for the ATP to come online. Obviously, such an overhaul will take several years. But if this deal goes through, then the WTA can look forward to a future without China.”

This information given by the Frenchwoman comes while China’s Peng Shuai continues to be the subject of a great deal of concern. She accused her country’s former vice-premier of sexual assault on 4 November on Weibo, and although she has reappeared publicly with footage coming from state-affiliated media, no evidence of her freedom of movement and speech has been provided. WTA president Steve Simon has already said he was prepared to withdraw the tour’s business in China the country did not provide guarantees on Peng Shuai’s situation.

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