WTA (Women's Tennis Association)
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The WTA Finals will be held in Fort Worth, Texas, next month, moving the event out of China for the second year in a row. Photo: AP

WTA moves season-ending finals to Texas, ‘expected’ to return to China in 2023

  • This year’s tournament to be held in Fort Worth from October 31 to November 7
  • World championships will return to Shenzhen next year after Covid, Peng Shuai row, lead to events being axed

The season-ending WTA Finals will take place in Texas next month and are expected to return to China in 2023, the Women’s Tennis Association has said.

In a statement, the governing body said this year’s championships would take place in Fort Worth from October 31 to November 7 at the Dickies Arena.

The WTA said the event was “expected to return” to Shenzhen next year. The tournament was last held in China in 2019 but was cancelled in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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In 2021, the finals were moved to Guadalajara, Mexico because of the health situation and travel restrictions.

Shenzhen was named as the long-term venue for the championships in 2018, with the southern Chinese city expected to host the tournament through 2028.

Since then however the WTA has suspended all tournaments in China over concerns for the well-being of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai.

The former doubles world No 1 alleged in a social media post last November that former Chinese vice-premier Zhang Gaoli forced her into sex during a years-long relationship.

The post was swiftly deleted and Peng was not heard from for nearly three weeks, prompting concern around the world about her safety. She has since appeared at some public events, and denied ever making the accusation.

Steve Simon, the WTA CEO, said in December the organisation was suspending events in China until further notice out of concern for Peng’s safety.

“I don’t see how I can ask our athletes to compete [in China] when Peng Shuai is not allowed to communicate freely and has seemingly been pressured to contradict her allegation of sexual assault,” Simon said in a statement.

“Given the current state of affairs, I am also greatly concerned about the risks that all of our players and staff could face if we were to hold events in China in 2022.”