Former U.S. ambassador to China Jon Huntsman Jr. isn’t surprised at what Americans have been hearing from former world No. 1 Li Na about Williams’ demise.
She’s been going on about how the WTA was out of line with its stance on China’s veteran Peng Shuai.
Her most recent outburst came last weekend during the French Open, when she said it was “very unfair” the WTA hadn’t made contact with her team.
“Even if it is challenging for Chinese, (the WTA) has made it into a human rights champion,” Huntsman said.
Williams was doing little to dampen the furor when she stated earlier this week that she’s boycotting the French Open for another year.
The former World No. 1 later issued a statement through her management saying that she wasn’t boycotting the French Open this year.
Williams, while enduring the most difficult season of her career, has made it clear she doesn’t want to be involved in matters that conflict with her “religious beliefs.”
Peng is a member of a minority religion that is under intense pressure in China.
The WTA is under pressure from human rights groups and players to criticize China’s harsh treatment of religious minorities.
Huntsman, who resigned from his ambassadorship last summer, told Fox News Channel last weekend that he doesn’t get it from the WTA that it’s ethical.
“There’s no ethical standard that exists within tennis,” Huntsman said. “I mean, you make $1.6 million a year. What’s wrong with that?”
Huntsman said the WTA should stand up for human rights, “but there’s a much higher standard when you’re talking about commercial interests.”
While he’s happy the WTA was calling for Peng to be reinstated last weekend, Huntsman admitted, “I thought it had the potential to be a great opportunity for the WTA to expand their brand awareness, especially with a fan base who maybe aren’t informed about who or what (Peng) is.”
China is doing it the hard way.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) named China a top-tier “noncompliant” nation last month over its stifling anti-doping stance, in addition to noncompliance related to the anti-bias rule.
The WADA interim report detailed how China is yet to find a solution to testing measures to catch players from being caught cheating.
There’s also no system in place in China for athletes to receive medical assistance, a situation that first came to light when tennis player Jia Zhaoxuan was kicked out of the sport for using a banned banned substance.