WTA Tour set to return to China in 2023 following suspension over Peng Shuai situation
By Bill Klim
17 Jan 2016
The Australian Open has faced criticism in the past for holding events in countries where they would not have hosted a major without a large fee.
But after a period of two years of absence, the WTA Tour will return to China in May this year for the first time since its last major championship in Shanghai last September.
The WTA Tour returned to China last year for the first time in its history and, following a highly publicised incident involving disgraced tennis star Peng Shuai, the event has been suspended, with the Australian Open to take over as the event’s replacement in April.
It was also announced at last month’s Australian Open that the tournament would return as the defending singles champion, starting this year with an all-China tournament in Dalian.
After years of avoiding WTA events in the country, the Australian Open is back in action when it will begin its new role March 11, starting a season of WTA events which will also include at least two new events as China launches a year of new rules governing WTA events for all nations.
With the potential for a major in 2017 in Shanghai while also seeing WTA events return to Wuhan in April, the WTA Tour is gearing up for its return on the Grand Slam scene.
China’s Grand Slam record
China last won a Grand Slam at the Australian Open in 2011, with the country winning all its four events in 2011 and the China Open in 2011 and 2012.
As a ranking point, China’s best player, Li Na, at the time was the third highest ranked woman in the world. She represented China at the London Olympics that year and won silver.
China last won Wimbledon in 2012, at the age of 31, when Lin Dan, who was 32 at the time, beat Li in the second round.
The 2008 Beijing gold medal winning tennis player, Liu Na continued her run as China’s highest ranked woman in 2014, when she was world No.2 on the WTA tour. She won her third title at the WTA Tour event in Dalian in China, while China’s first Grand Slam title, in doubles, came the year after winning the Sydney Olympics.
China’s highest-ever ranked man, Li Yongbo, had an equally impressive career,