I just hope that WTA is strategically making a good choice – Swiatek on WTA’s return to China

The world No 1 returns to the tour after a rib injury and plays Qinwen Zheng in her first match in Stuttgart this week on Thursday

Iga Swiatek speaks to the media in Stuttgart in April 2023 Iga Swiatek speaks to the media in Stuttgart in April 2023 Image Credit: AI/Reuters/Panoramic

World No 1 Iga Swiatek, of Poland, has said she finds it tough to comment on the return of the WTA Tour to China but trusts that the Tour leadership is making the right decision.

Last week, the WTA Tour announced that it would return to China after suspending tournaments in the region in the wake of concerns about WTA player Peng Shuai. Peng had alleged that she was sexually assaulted by a top Chinese government official but later deleted her social media post and was not seen in public besides a handful of appearances, which many believe were stage managed.

The WTA Tour said they were lifting the suspension to ensure that the players and tournaments do not suffer on account of goals which they believe they would never fully be able to accomplish.

“After 16 months of suspended tennis competition in China and sustained efforts at achieving our original requests, the situation has shown no sign of changing,” the WTA said in its statement. “We have concluded we will never fully secure those goals, and it will be our players and tournaments who ultimately will be paying an extraordinary price for their sacrifices. For these reasons, the WTA is lifting its suspension of the operation of tournaments in the People’s Republic of China.”

Speaking in Stuttgart where she is the top seed for this week’s Porsche Grand Prix, Swiatek was asked what she thought of the decision to return to China.

“I just trust that the WTA is making right decision. I hope that we, as players, can be safe no matter what country we are from,” the 21-year-old said. “I don’t have any kind of emotional influence because I have never even been to China. It’s hard for me to say anything, but I just hope that WTA is strategically making a good choice.”

The Pole, who was named to Time Magazine’s list of 100 most influential people in the world last week, will begin her campaign in Stuttgart against a Chinese player, Qinwen Zheng, whom she has been in both their previous meetings, each time in three sets.

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