The WTA is back in China – and Jule Niemeier is still in a crisis of form
Jule Niemeier (24) has conceded her next opening defeat at the WTA Tour comeback in China. Niemeier lost for the third time in a row in the first round of a WTA tournament, having failed to qualify for the US Open. The 2022 Wimbledon quarter-finalist has dropped to 136th in the world rankings.
Guangzhou will be the first of seven WTA tournaments to be held in China this year. The WTA had withdrawn from China in protest at its handling of former tennis player Peng Shuai, who disappeared from the public eye for several weeks after allegations of abuse against a high-ranking politician.
In April, the players’ organisation lifted its ban, although the required independent investigation of the “Peng Shuai” case in China had never taken place. WTA Managing Director Steve Simon admitted that the boycott would not achieve its goal. The only ones to suffer, he said, were the players and tournament organisers, who were “paying an extraordinary price for their sacrifices”.
Peng had made her accusations on the social network Weibo, but later deleted her entry. The case had caused a stir beyond the sports world. Even before the WTA boycott, no tournaments were held in China for a long time after the outbreak of the Corona pandemic due to entry restrictions. Before the comeback in Guangzhou, the WTA Tour last stopped in Shenzhen in January 2020.
After Niemeier’s withdrawal, three other German players are still competing in the tournament, which is endowed with 259,303 dollars: Tatjana Maria (Bad Saulgau/No. 3), Anna-Lena Friedsam (Neuwied) and Tamara Korpatsch (Hamburg). The tournament continues in China next week in Ningbo, followed by one of the biggest tournaments this autumn in Beijing.