How WTA Chief Steve Simon Took on China Above Peng Shuai

Simon’s refusal to settle for China’s authoritarian stance on human rights as soon as it right influenced a single of his gamers stands in stark contrast to several significant-profile leaders in sports activities who have repeatedly bent to the desires of the Chinese, like Adam Silver, the commissioner of the N.B.A., and Thomas Bach, the president of the Intercontinental Olympic Committee.

Simon has been concerned about Peng’s actual physical safety but also believed, as did the customers of his player council and many others he communicates with routinely in a participant chat group, that the silencing of Peng and her sexual assault allegation amounted to a immediate assault on the principle of equality on which the WTA was established.

“It’s now December and we’ve not viewed any meaningful progress,” he said Wednesday night.

Simon, a 66-yr-aged Southern California native, performed tennis at Very long Beach front Condition College and mixed doubles at Wimbledon in 1981 along with Lea Antonoplis. He has used his adult lifetime in tennis coaching, operating the tennis program for Adidas, and arranging and at some point directing the BNP Paribas Open, a joint men’s and women’s function in Indian Wells, Calif., regarded as the fifth Grand Slam.

All together, Simon was quietly attaining authority in just tennis circles, even if number of of the gamers realized him especially very well. He commenced serving on the board of the WTA in 2004.

In 2009, he worked to get Stacey Allaster, then the president of the WTA, appointed as the next chief govt. Allaster said for the duration of a rough second for her candidacy, she privately requested Simon if he may well be a much better healthy to lead the corporation.

“Without a blink he turned to me and mentioned, ‘No, we’re heading to keep the program,’” Allaster claimed.

6 yrs later, soon after Allaster made a decision to phase down, the WTA board unanimously picked Simon to triumph her. He has since cultivated the aid of the sport’s most significant stars of the present and past, like Serena Williams and King, the founder of the WTA, even though protecting his many years-long associations with the match administrators who have been his preliminary foundation of assist.

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