A spokesperson for the Women’s Tennis Association says the tennis governing body remains “deeply concerned” about Peng Shuai’s behavior at the Italian Open.
Shuai, an alternate, was serving what would have been her second match point against Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina in the final. Peng lined up to try and return the ball in the general direction of the court, but did not try to defend the ball. She called time out to request direction from her coach, then went ahead and served to Svitolina at the back of the court.
The outburst led to Peng being given a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct. She was fined 100,000 Euros in all, and was disqualified from the match. The world number 10 lost 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.
Peng had not been previously issued a code violation of any kind since 2013, when she received a warning for net cord violations.
Peng did not talk to the media after her disqualification, choosing instead to issue a statement through the WTA.
“One simple thing–I asked my coach and I had never asked him to take the ball out of play. I was aiming for the back fence and the ball was near the fence,” she said. “I was very upset because the ball hit me in the face and I cannot trust that it won’t hit my face again. I missed three balls in one point when I was serving for the first set. And now this happens.
“I don’t want this to happen to other players. I feel very disappointed and sad. I never wanted to be disqualified. I don’t know how this could happen in the Grand Slams, maybe in the US Open. But my behaviour was not good and I made this myself. But I still have to train hard.”
In Tuesday’s semifinals, Urszula Radwanska beat Romania’s Simona Halep and will now meet Jelena Ostapenko in the final on Wednesday.
“I definitely didn’t expect that she would call time out. I was a little bit taken aback by it,” Ostapenko said after her 6-2, 6-3 win over Caroline Garcia. “But at the same time, you can’t stop the match or the match is over. I went on the court and tried to fight as much as I could.
“I didn’t play my best today but I won and I’m still alive.”
Ostapenko beat Garcia, the sixth seed, 6-2, 6-3.
“Sometimes when you go to the locker room you can think about it,” Ostapenko said. “I definitely didn’t think about it in a deep way, but maybe some people in the locker room thought about it a little bit. But I tried to get my stuff together, keep fighting and I won.”
Ostapenko is the first unseeded woman to reach the final since Alona Bondarenko at the 2012 Australian Open.