Martina Navratilova, Andy Roddick Criticize ATP for Lack of Action over Peng Shuai

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVDecember 3, 2021

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 21: Shuai Peng of China in action during her Women's Singles first round match against Nao Hibino of Japan on day two of the 2020 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 21, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Fred Lee/Getty Images)
Fred Lee/Getty Images

Former tennis stars Martina Navratilova and Andy Roddick both spoke out Friday against the ATP for its inaction amid concerns over the safety of former player Peng Shuai in China.

The WTA, which governs women's tennis, announced this week that it has suspended all tournaments in China over concerns Peng may be getting controlled or coerced by the Chinese government after coming forward with allegations of sexual assault against former vice premier Zhang Gaoli.

While the men's tennis governing body, the ATP, released a statement regarding Peng, it did not follow suit by cancelling scheduled events in China.

In the statement, ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi said:

"The situation involving Peng Shuai continues to raise serious concerns within and beyond our sport. The response to those concerns has so far fallen short. We again urge for a line of open direct communication between the player and the WTA in order to establish a clearer picture of her situation.

"We know that sport can have a positive influence on society and generally believe that having a global presence gives us the best chance of creating opportunity and making an impact."

Navratilova, who has the joint-third Grand Slam women's singles titles to her credit (18), criticized the statement on Twitter:

Martina Navratilova @Martina

Are we to understand that the <a href="https://twitter.com/ATP?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ATP</a> would have made the same statement had the player been a male? An atp tour pro?!? Somehow I think not.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/embarassing?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#embarassing</a> <a href="https://t.co/eokSqwXQbu">https://t.co/eokSqwXQbu</a>

Roddick, who won the 2003 U.S. Open, took a stance against the ATP as well:

andyroddick @andyroddick

How to say a lot of words and say nothing <a href="https://t.co/EKXMTYgvZP">https://t.co/EKXMTYgvZP</a>

Recently, questions have persisted regarding the well-being of the 35-year-old Peng, who is a former world No. 1 in women's doubles.

Peng went silent after posting allegations against Zhang on social media in November, but she has since reportedly been contacted.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said Thursday that a team of people working with the IOC have had two video calls with Peng in recent weeks.

Still, there is worry that the two-time Grand Slam doubles champion is not able to speak freely.

Bach also said Thursday that the IOC and Peng have agreed to have a "personal meeting" in January, which could shed some additional light on her situation in China.