Chinese veteran Shuai Peng offered up her defence, in the wake of the Tennis Integrity Unit’s announcement of a lengthy suspension and fine after an incident at last year’s Wimbledon.
But the other player involved, Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck, came out with a sharply contrasting version of events Sunday.
The TUI investigated and determined Peng offered an unnamed player she signed up to play doubles with a financial inducement to drop out of the tournament.
Ostensibly, she did this so that she could team up with another player.
It emerged that Van Uytvanck was the player approached and that Sania Mirza, with whom Peng played the remainder of the season, was her preferred option.
Not guity, Peng says
Peng, per this translation from the Chinese social media Weibo, wrote that she never coerced any player to pull out of the draw.
She blamed the situation on miscommunication between her former coach and Van Uytvanck’s (also now-former) coach.
Peng Shuai's reply about the punishment from TIU (from her Sina Weibo and I translate it) pic.twitter.com/FtaIL1DlPy
— Olly Marz (@OllyMarz_) August 10, 2018
The Chinese player said that at the time, she and Mirza “really wanted to play doubles together”. And so she and then-coach Bertrand Perret told Van Uytvanck they wanted to offer her the equivalent of first-round prize money. The idea was to compensate for her accommodations and the schedule change.
In the end, Peng essentially said she didn’t know the rules (this, after 15 years on Tour, many of those at the top of the doubles rankings). And when she found that she and Mirza wouldn’t be able to team up together regardless, she confirmed with Van Uytvanck that they would play.
But then, the Belgian withdrew due to injury.
So her contention is that withdrawing from the doubles was Van Uytvanck’s decision, and that she and former coach Perret never gave her money to induce her to do it.
Van Uytvanck responds
Van Uytvanck’s version differs significantly. And on Sunday, she laid it out on Twitter.
— Alison Van Uytvanck (@AlisonVanU) August 12, 2018
It’s entirely possible that the truth lies somewhere between these two extremes.
Van Uytvanck did end up qualifying for the singles, so it wasn’t as though she hadn’t already made plans to stay at least through the first part of the first week of the main draw. She lost to Ekaterina Makarova in the first round.
Peng added in her message that she would get legal advice before deciding whether or not to file an appeal.
She had half the six-month ban suspended, pending no further transgressions, and is eligible to return Nov. 8.
As for Van Uytvanck, she lost in the second round of the Rogers Cup this week to No. 15 seed Ashleigh Barty.
The No. 5 seed in the Cincinnati qualifying won the first set easily Saturday against American Jamie Loeb. But after a two-hour rain delay midway through the second set, retired down 0-3 in the third.