Peng in hot water after walkout

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 December, 2007, 12:00am

Star vows to boycott Guangzhou tournament

Troubled mainland diva Peng Shuai was fined and censured yesterday by Chinese sports authorities for a public tantrum at a year-end tournament in Guangzhou.

The incident was compounded by an allegation that an unidentified member of Peng's entourage attacked a spectator in the stands after the women's singles final of the domestic Chinese Grand Prix Cup at the weekend.

Peng, the world number 45, is one of eight stars, among them Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams, who will contest the JB Group Classic at Victoria Park next month.

Peng abandoned the final against Zhang Shuai on Sunday after persistent but futile protests at several decisions by the umpire. The 22-year-old was trailing 2-3 in the decisive third set when she smashed her racquet against the wall behind the baseline and walked off the court, citing a 'bad cold', amid jeers from an estimated 2,000-strong crowd at the Guangzhou Tianhe Sports Centre.

Peng also refused to attend the medal ceremony and told a press conference she would never play in the tournament again.

'This is the last time I play here,' Peng said. 'Things always go wrong every time I play in Guangzhou.'

In the 2006 edition of the tournament, Peng accused the Chinese Tennis Association (CTA) of a 'frame-up' in which it allegedly deliberately delayed notifying her of a schedule change, resulting in her missing her match.

Peng has a history of dissent with the CTA ever since she openly challenged the governing body in early 2006 in a bid to take control of her career instead of being managed by the association.

The CTA said yesterday Peng would have to 'submit a paper of self-criticism over her bad manners which go against sportsmanship' and would also 'be subject to financial punishment'.

Gao Shenyang, the deputy director of the CTA, refused to disclose the size of the fine.

Gao said his organisation had been tolerant with Peng yet couldn't accept her misbehaviour.

'It is basic for a tennis player to respect rules as well as the spectators,' said Gao.

Meanwhile, an official with the organising body of the Guangzhou tournament confirmed a complaint had been received from a spectator, who alleged she had been attacked during the same match by an unidentified man who was seen with Peng's mother in the stands.

'The purported victim told us the man poured a bottle of drinking water on her after overhearing her complain about Peng's withdrawal,' said a tournament spokeswoman.

The spokeswoman declined to say whether her organisation would investigate the complaint.

Peng defended her family. 'My mother didn't know the attacker in person at all,' Peng said.