Steve Simon is on a confrontation course with China in the case of the missing Peng Shuai. Unusual for a sports official. But what kind of man is the American? A portrait.

These videos are supposed to show Peng Shuai.

That's what it's about

  • The Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai is still considered to have disappeared.

  • On Wednesday the world association in women's tennis announced that it would boycott China.

  • The WTA boss Steve Simon arranged this.

  • But who is this man?

It's a historic battle between the WTA and China. On Wednesday, the world association in women's tennis cracked down on the 35-year-old tennis player who had disappeared. And how. So he announced that he will not hold any tournaments in China until further notice. WTA boss Steve Simon made this decision. The decision to suspend all WTA tournaments in China and Hong Kong until the mysterious events surrounding double specialist Peng Shuai are cleared up is like an earthquake in sport.

But who is Steve Simon? What kind of man is this who messes with China? Simon is an American and 66 years old. But otherwise? Anyone looking for the WTA boss on Wikipedia will find a five-line text about him. There is as yet no article about him in English or in German. And: The English-language short text about the WTA boss was only created on December 2, 2021 at 10:46 p.m. Means: Previously there was no text at all about the American in the online encyclopedia.

But the information about Simon already exists in snippets. He was born in California and started playing tennis when he was ten. In 1981 he qualified for the mixed doubles at Wimbledon, where he lost to the side of his compatriot Lea Antonoplis in the first round. He later switched to tennis sponsorship and became tournament director at the Indian Wells tournament in 2004.

This is him, Steve Simon. The WTA boss. Shown here with Martina Hingis from Switzerland.

 This is how the tennis boss ticks who takes on China in the Peng Shuai case

Simon was born in California and is 66 years old.

 This is how the tennis boss ticks who takes on China in the Peng Shuai case

When Simon announced on Wednesday that all tournaments in China would be suspended with immediate effect, the US wrote -american tennis journalist Peter Bodo: “The real Steve Simon has finally got up.”

With the China boycott, the WTA is losing millions

From then on, at the latest, it became increasingly clear: Simon is a man of principles. The sisters Serena and Venus Williams boycotted Indian Wells since 2004 because they felt racially offended by the audience. It wasn't until 2014 that Serena Williams made her tournament comeback. This after long and annual discussions with Simon. «He's really someone who cares about the players. A good listener and he only has the best of intentions in mind for us, ”she said of him.

These principles can now be recognized again. It is the first time that a global sports association has taken on the powerful sports player China – the largest sponsor of women's tennis. Ten WTA tournaments were planned in China in 2022. The withdrawal means one thing above all for the WTA: a loss of several hundred million francs. It shouldn't matter to Simon. But the WTA boss still classifies other things as more important. More important than money and profit.

What is that? The Human Rights. And: the well-being of the players. Simon risks a lot for both. In recent years he has ensnared China to enter the Asia-Pacific market. An example: The world association in women's tennis sold the WTA final to China until 2030. The country paid millions for the tournament, in which the best eight players of the season will compete at the end of the year. Now Simon tells CNN: “We had great success in China. But now we are definitely willing to completely withdraw our business with all the complications that go with it. ” In the past, the world too often let business, politics and money dictate what is right and what is wrong.

Why can't other associations do without China?

When Simon announced on Wednesday that all tournaments in China would be suspended with immediate effect, US tennis journalist Peter Bodo wrote: “The real Steve Simon has finally risen.” And indeed, the general public knew the WTA boss so far as a person who appeared sober and unemotional in interviews. Bodo went on to write: “People knew him as an accountant.” This has changed now. Definitive. The sports world – and probably beyond – now knows who Simon is.

Due to the uncompromising action of the WTA, other sports associations now have to be asked questions. Probably the most important: Why can't other associations do without China when the women's world association in tennis foregoes its largest stage because human rights are more important to them than business?

 This is how the tennis boss ticks who is fighting with China in the Peng Shuai case

IOC President Thomas Bach made a 30-minute video call with Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has already provided an answer to this question. For example, President Thomas Bach conducted an interview with 35-year-old Shuai via video call. “She seemed relaxed,” said Bach afterwards. On Thursday, the IOC also announced that they could talk to Shuai a second time. The problem: only the IOC seems to be in contact with the Chinese. Simon announced that he had not had any contact with the tennis player to this day.

Simon cannot expect any support from the ATP, the men's world tennis association. The association announced on Friday morning that China would not be boycotted. So Steve Simon and the WTA are alone in the fight against China. The world association in women's tennis and the accountant.

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By Teresa Tapmleton

Teresa Tampleton has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Nizh TEkegram, Teresa Tampleton worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teresa@ntelegram.com 1-800-268-7341

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