Salute To Steve Simon And The WTA

  • by , Featured Contributor, December 23, 2021
Sport has been an integral part of society for as long as there has been recorded history. So, after so many pandemic shutdowns, it was truly uplifting in 2021 to see the return of so many organized sporting events and leagues, from small town little leagues and high school sports to college sports, top pro leagues, and even the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics finally playing out in the summer of 2021.

We have so many to thank for their tremendous courage, planning and tenacity to bring this about. Players, team, coaches, parents, facilities personnel, governments, media companies, sponsors -- and, so importantly, fans -- all played big parts, and for their efforts we are so grateful.

However, among all the extraordinary work in the world of sports in 2021, what the Women’s Tennis Association and its CEO Steve Simon have been doing over these past two months in defense of Peng Shuai and the global effort to fight against sexual assault stands out.

On Nov. 2, top WTA player Peng Shuai published allegations that she had been sexually assaulted by a top Chinese government official. Almost immediately, all mention of her on Chinese media and social platforms disappeared, as did her original post and allegations, and she became impossible to contact.



After repeated, unsuccessful attempts by friends, fellow players and WTA officials to reach out to her, Peng finally resurfaced publicly in several brief, controlled and choreographed settings within China, making placating statements that mirror what we have all seen all too often among those who have made sexual assault allegations against powerful figures upon whom their careers depend. Fortunately, the WTA and Steve Simon were not placated.

On Dec. 3, the WTA and Simon announced the immediate suspension of all WTA tournaments in China and Hong Kong. The WTA called out the failure of those in control to listen to and appropriately respond to Peng Shuai’s assault allegations, the lack of transparency from the Chinese government, and the attempts to pressure her to withdraw her allegations.

As Simon said, “None of this is acceptable, nor can it become acceptable.” This could not have been easy. The WTA hosts 10 tournaments in China and Hong Kong, including several of the sport’s most lucrative and important events.

The WTA's stand is in contrast to the position of the International Olympic Committee, which determined not to push the government (the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics kick off in less than six weeks), arguing that diplomacy through sports is more powerful than taking hard stands on issues of human rights.

Of course, we probably all wish that the IOC could have done a “redo” when it took a similar stance in 1936 and chose not to deny Hitler and the Nazis a global stage and tacit acceptance of their anti-Semitic policies. Instead, the Berlin 1936 Summer Olympics become a showcase for the regime’s racism and totalitarianism.

For sure, the suspension of WTA tournaments in China and Hong Kong will put pressure on the WTA’s revenues and will require economic sacrifice on the part of its players. I hope its sponsors will step up and fill the gap, recognizing that doing the right thing is one of the reasons that Simon, the women tennis athletes and its board have built the WTA into what is now probably the most valuable professional women’s sports franchises on the globe.

We salute you, Steve Simon and the Women’s Tennis Association. Thank you for standing up for sexual assault victims everywhere and doing the right thing.

4 comments about "Salute To Steve Simon And The WTA".
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  1. Tony Jarvis from Olympic Media Consultancy, December 24, 2021 at 10:49 a.m.

    As an Olympian, I higly commend Dave for his POV and the stark parallels made to the 1936 Games (and we don't always agree!!).  I recommend that Media Post makes the WTA CEO, Steve Simon, Marketer of the Year and urge everyone in our advertising community to increase support of the WTA and its incredible players in every way possible in 2022 and beyond. 
    I commented on this evolving story on LinkedIn supporting the position of "Human Rights Watch" and noting the weak handling of this matter by the IOC and the pathetic performance by IOC President, Thomas Bach. 

  2. Dave Morgan from Simulmedia replied, December 24, 2021 at 11:24 a.m.

    Tony, thanks for your comments. It means a lot given your unique position to opine here. I totally agree that Steve Simon should be the MediaPost Marketer of the Year. So many times, brands talk about upholding values and barely have a veneer of authenticity. Not here, and not with Steve and the WTA. His and their position are ones they live every day as athletes, leaders and global role models. Dave

  3. Edward Gold from Blue Dog Agency, December 24, 2021 at 11:32 a.m.

    I knew Steve Simon when he was the Executive Director of the Newsweek Champions Cup (ATP) and State Farm Evert Cup (WTA) events in Indian Wells, CA.  He was and still is a "good human".  Decisions like this when you run a business are never easy and can have long range impacts.  But, I am very happy to see that there are still people like Steve Simon out there that can make the hard and right decision when confronted by injustice.

  4. Dave Morgan from Simulmedia replied, December 24, 2021 at 11:46 a.m.

    Thanks Ed. I too was lucky to get to know Steve a bit when he was tournament director at Indian Wells and feel the same way, he is a really good and special human, through and through.

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