WTA stance on Peng in China paves way for Hologic deal

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Published on March 03, 2022 4:09 p.m.

WTA’s stance on Peng in China paves way for Hologic deal

(Reuters) – The Women’s Tennis Association’s stance in the case of Chinese player Peng Shuai has helped the organization secure a multi-year sponsorship deal with U.S. medical device maker Hologic, The New York Times reported on Thursday.

Peng’s wellbeing became a matter of concern for the global tennis community when she appeared to allege that a former Chinese vice premier, Zhang Gaoli, had sexually assaulted her in the past. The post was quickly removed and she was absent from public view for almost three weeks.

In December, the WTA announced it would suspend events in China, a move that could cost the women’s tour hundreds of millions of dollars in broadcast and sponsorship.

The Hologic deal is the first for the WTA since its previous title sponsorship with cellphone maker Sony Ericsson ended in 2010.

WTA President Micky Lawler declined to disclose terms of the deal, but told The New York Times it “comes at a very, very good time.”

The WTA and Hologic did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment on the report.

“I would view this more as a conversation starter than a deal breaker,” Lisa Hellmann, senior vice president at Hologic, was quoted in the report as saying.

“We have watched very closely some of the courageous and very honest moves that the WTA has made almost on their own.

“And it brought to our attention both the potential need they might have for a title sponsorship, as well as the fact that they really want to back and support the position they’re taking despite having a really negative impact. on their business.”

Last month, Peng denied ever accusing anyone of sexual assault, adding that she herself deleted her social media post in November that appeared to make such a claim.

But the WTA stuck to its demand for a formal investigation into Peng’s allegations and an opportunity to meet Peng privately to discuss his situation.

“For us, this is the biggest sponsorship in WTA history and probably the biggest in women’s sport,” Lawler said.

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