WTA to review ‘unfortunate’ incident after China’s Zhang retires from match due to poor behavior of opponent

July 22, 2023

The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) said in a statement on Thursday that it has zero tolerance for racism in any form or context and the unfortunate incident that took place at the Hungarian Grand Prix and subsequent posts are being reviewed and will be addressed, in response to Chinese player Zhang Shuai’s retirement from a match at the event.

Zhang retired from the match at the WTA Hungarian Grand Prix on Tuesday over a disputed call and what many viewed the subsequent glaring display of bad sportsmanship by her opponent.

The row erupted at 5-5 in the first set when second seed Zhang hit a cross-court forehand against the Hungarian Amarissa Toth. The ball was called out by the line judge, but video and the mark on the clay court clearly showed that the ball had landed in. 

There is no line technology used on clay courts, with umpires often using the mark left by the ball to determine their calls.

As Zhang argued over the decision, the umpire refused to step down from her chair to check the mark and insisted on her decision to rule it as out. 

After the next play, Toth walked over and used her shoes to rub out the mark. 

“Wait, wait, wait! Keep the mark,” Zhang said. 

“What are you doing? Why would you do that if the ball was called out?”

An emotional Zhang was then seen in tears and opted to retire but she still shook hands with the umpire and Toth, while Toth celebrated her opponent’s retirement, a move widely despised in the tennis world.

Zhang voiced her frustration on social media after the game. 

“All efforts on practice was wrong, because when you wanted hitting closer to the line, even touched the line still OUT… I love you guys and all girls who support me and standing on my side.”

The shocking scene sparked an outburst of rage among fellow tennis players who condemned the unsportsmanlike behavior of Toth. 

Australian doubles player Ellen Perez wrote on her Twitter: “Well that’s a quick way to lose respect from your peers. I’m actually shook by the level of disrespect from this girl. If I see this girl tomorrow I will tell her how disgusted I am.”

“The award for unsportsmanlike conduct of the year goes to Amarissa Toth,” said Polish player Urszula Radwanska. 

Australian player Ajla Tomljanovic posted: “Absolutely disgusting behavior. Shuai is a better person than a lot of us for shaking the ref and that girl’s hand.”

Erasing the ball mark and celebrating when your opponent retires from the match is a new low for sportsmanship in tennis, said a Twitter user named Ryan.