The board of the WTA has cast doubt on a story released by Tsai Chin, the Chinese tennis player, who accused tournament officials of wrongly censoring her comments at the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo last week.
During a press conference on Tuesday, Ms. Chin, a current player ranked No. 120, explained she was upset over a request that she take her shoes off during her and her coach’s match with Australian qualifier Kelly Olynyk. For this, Ms. Chin was informed that, in order to respect her call of out-of-court service, which she uses in the court before serving, the shoes should be taken off. Instead, she said, the shoes were kept on until she was defeated.
In a now-deleted Twitter post (what appears to be the original, though she hasn’t clarified), Ms. Chin claimed she had been “censored,” in part because she was standing with her feet facing the back of the court.
“Why am I constantly referred to as a foreigner when I’m not?” she asked. “They keep saying that I never played [for China], and I always say that I’m also a tourist, but now I’m now a No. 1 player, why should I not be respected as a China tennis player and myself?”
According to the New York Times, the WTA, which holds the Pan Pacific Open, distanced itself from the alleged impropriety in an earlier statement. It stated: “We have no plans to sanction Ms. Chin for comments she made at the Pan Pacific Open and the WTA is reviewing the matter. The WTA opposes any type of censorship of players’ comments or treatment, whether at a tennis tournament or otherwise.”
In a statement on Wednesday to Reuters, WTA chairwoman Stacey Allaster said she believed Ms. Chin’s comments were sincere, but said her conversations with the player were that she was sincere. Ms. Allaster added that the media was simply making too much of the incident, leading to speculation that she was displeased.
“Ms. Chin said at the end of last week that she was writing the article before she left from Japan,” Ms. Allaster said. “So I’m reading this and thinking, ‘There’s only one person I believe that statement was directed at, and it’s not me.’ And that’s a situation where I can’t ignore that.”
Ms. Allaster also clarified that the WTA hadn’t been contacted by the tournament over the shoes issue, adding: “I think what happened, as Ms. Chin says, is — she feels really strongly about what happened, not that the press felt it was anti-China, but there was a perception that somehow we had somehow taken this decision that was antithetical to what Chinese tennis should be.”