On a day when the concern about longtime Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai’s safety escalated with the publication of an email – allegedly penned by Peng – by a Chinese-affiliated media outlet was met with skepticism by WTA CEO Steve Simon, her longtime doubles partner Hsieh Su-Wei was on court playing the WTA Tour Finals doubles championship match.
Hsieh and parther Elise Mertens bowed out to No. 1 seeds Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova, 6-3, 6-4.
Afterwards, Open Court asked both Mertens and Hsieh to give their thoughts on the Peng situation.
(No one else was going to ask; there were few journalists on the Zoom).
To set the stage, it was made clear that the question was to both, and that it was understood that it was a delicate situation. So it was okay either way if they did or did not want to comment.
We also asked Hsieh, given their longtime partnership, if she had attempted to get in touch with Peng by any means she might have – email, or phone numbers – to see if she was safe.
For the Taiwanese Hsieh it obviously is an especially tricky subject.
Mertens did not answer.
Here’s what Hsieh said.
“As you may know, I had a very hard time getting a visa here, so I’m not focusing on other stuff.
“Because before the tournament start, for one week, I was doing my visa every day. I wake up very early and wait late, and try to practice between that.”
“I hope she’s okay. But I just finished the tournament.”
“And it’s Elise’s birthday today.”
Hsieh and Peng a championship duo
The pair are just four days apart in age; Peng was born Jan. 8, 1986 and Peng four days before, on Jan. 4.
Of Hsieh’s 30 career titles, 12 were won with Peng including Wimbledon and the WTA Finals in 2013, and Roland Garros in 2014.
They also reached the WTA Finals in 2014 and won Rome, Cincinnati and Indian Wells together.
It was a long association.
The two first teamed up in Bali, late in the 2008 season, and played all the way through to the 2010 Australian Open together (above). They won the Premier Mandatory event in Beijing in 2009.
They played once together in 2010, three times in 2012. And then straight through from the 2013 Australian Open to the 2014 WTA Tour Finals.
By then, from what we heard, they weren’t really speaking (and we saw it first hand when we snapped this pic of them signing autographs during that event in Singapore.
Indeed, they didn’t play together again until Indian Wells and Miami in 2016. And again, they teamed up for the first few tournaments of 2018, including the Australian Open.
But that was the end of it.
Funny moment at Wimbledon
It might well have been the same year Roger Federer got all that stick for the orange soles of his Nikes.
But a similar thing happened to Peng and Hsieh, when Hsieh’s visor had – OMG, GASP!!!!) black on the underside of the bill.
There was extensive discussion with chair umpire Arnaud Gabas (years before he got a bit famous in the Denis Shapovalov incident).
And although the two of them thought it was both hilarious and ludicrous, if memory serves, Peng had to go back to the locker room and get another one of her own visors, or the two couldn’t get on the court to play.