WTA chief denies penalising Peng Shuai for protecting herself at Wimbledon

The president of the WTA has denied that it would be appropriate to take a player off the court after a video emerged of her being physically restrained during a match at Wimbledon on Saturday.

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Peng Shuai’s departure after the seventh game of the second set of her second-round match with Japan’s Kiki Bertens provoked concern after footage emerged of her defending herself.

The incident also drew the attention of the All England Club, with officials citing its dress code as a reason behind suspending the player’s accreditation for the following day’s action.

But WTA president Steve Simon said the video of the same incident was insufficient to ensure Peng’s safety, despite the player withdrawing immediately following the incident on court one.

“From a player’s standpoint, it is my understanding that Peng requested that the chair umpire take some measures to restrain her on court, and we are grateful for that,” Simon said.

“While it doesn’t show everything that happened on the court, I think it is clear that Peng Shuai had a very concerned look on her face – and that is the best way to show respect for the game.

“The chair umpire’s discretion, though, is to take action as he deems necessary to protect the interests of the game and to allow spectators to enjoy the remainder of the match. In my opinion, the chair umpire went above and beyond to ensure Peng Shuai’s safety and wellbeing.”

The incident comes almost two months after Serena Williams hit a ball boy with a ball in the same event at the All England Club, causing widespread outrage and condemnation.

Simon denied that Peng’s treatment at Wimbledon demonstrated a problem with the dress code at the Championships.

“I think the dress code as it is written is correct,” he said. “But we need to be able to show respect for the game and spectators.”

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He also told Tennis.com that the rulebook was not at the forefront of his concerns following her incident.

“Wimbledon will handle that and it’s their event,” he said. “At the WTA we have a code of conduct and those are rules that we live by. It’s not like they said, ‘You know what, we don’t think it’s right to have a rule in Wimbledon.’ We think it’s right.

“That’s our decision, we live by it. Whether the main tournament thinks that, it’s up to them to kind of come and talk about, ‘Okay, what would the dress code be?’ It’s not a matter of the dress code. The dress code is the dress code. You can’t change it.

“I think they asked why Serena didn’t pull out a long time ago. I don’t know if they said, ‘There’s not a dress code.’ We think it’s important that players respect the game, respect the fan, respect their fans and the ref, and play with the right attitude.”

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