Peng Shuai won the 2016 Australian Open, while being a mother for the first time
WTA chief executive Steve Simon says new footage in which Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai is shown walking into the wrong lanes of traffic on a Beijing street is “insufficient” to convince her that her safety is guaranteed.
The footage comes just a few weeks after Svetlana Kuznetsova, another Russian, was left “extremely scared” after public criticism by a fan for “throwing” the Citi Open on to the sidewalk at Washington, DC.
Peng and her husband Zheng Jie hired a private bodyguard for the grass court event in 2017, which had been moved from Shanghai to China for the first time.
“We are very concerned at the safety of Peng Shuai and are working closely with the WTA Tour to ensure she feels safe and secure,” Simon said in a statement on Friday.
“We had previously been in touch with China Open security, and her management, over concerns about public safety, and we will keep them updated as appropriate.
“At this time, Peng Shuai’s management and the China Open security are handling the situation with her. We don’t want to compromise her safety in any way.
“Peng Shuai has expressed a desire to play her matches and return to her fans and we would like to support her in doing so.”
Simon’s comments come as Peng insists that Wang Tzu-ying, the WTA player safety officer, will bring “peace and tranquillity” to the lives of the women competing in the China Open.
Wang has refused to speak out since Peng Shuai’s concerns, while the 25-year-old Safin is understood to have spoken privately with Wang – prompting Wang to issue a formal statement reiterating how “important it is to respect everyone’s private space”.