MELBOURNE — The WTA’s code of conduct agreement with the Asian Tennis Federation to which Peng Shuai was operating pertains to expectations regarding the mode of communication with the player. WTA was therefore legally obliged to withdraw her from the draw at Eastbourne because WTA had written agreement with ATF which barred Peng from using social media from 6 a.m. local time, access to which is a restriction on the right to participate in events in WTA-sanctioned tournaments and series events. However, WTA only learned that Peng had posted comments to her Instagram account at 1:30 a.m. local time, despite the 4 a.m. local time restriction imposed by ATF.
Peng did subsequently apologize for her actions, which WTA accepted. Peng had also reached out to WTA in the hope that a face-to-face meeting could help normalize her situation with the organization.
WTA remained “concerned” about Peng’s ability to speak freely and to express her opinions freely under the terms of the agreement with ATF and was seeking further communication with the ATF and AFT to see what ways the organization could amend the agreement and to find an appropriate resolution.
WTA said it was aware of the commitment that AFT had extended to its members to allow them to engage in conversation and commentary on social media throughout their entire competitive period, including access to commentaries via their Twitter accounts during live competitions. However, WTA and AFT had reached an agreement, which was also signed by Peng, that stated that no player from AFT or AFT accredited teams and events should comment or blog about matches they have been disqualified from participating in prior to the commencement of the Championships.