Putting principles before profits, Steve Simon takes a stand


Simon’s refusal to accept China’s authoritarian stance on human rights once it directly hits one of its players contrasts sharply with several top sports leaders who repeatedly bowed to the wishes of the Chinese, including Adam Silver, the commissioner of the NBA. , and Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee.

Simon expressed concern for Peng’s physical safety but also felt, along with members of his player council and others with whom he communicates regularly in a player discussion group, that Peng’s silence and his allegation sexual assault amounted to a direct attack on the principle of equality upon which the WTA was founded.

“We are now in December and we have not seen any significant progress,” he said on Wednesday evening.

Simon, a 66-year-old native of Southern California, played tennis at Long Beach State University and mixed doubles at Wimbledon in 1981 alongside Lea Antonoplis. He spent his adult life coaching tennis, leading the Adidas tennis program, and organizing and ultimately directing the BNP Paribas Open, a mixed male and female event in Indian Wells, Calif., Known as of Fifth Grand Slam.

Throughout, Simon was quietly gaining authority in tennis circles, even though few players knew him particularly well. He began serving on the WTA Board of Directors in 2004.

In 2009, he worked to get Stacey Allaster, then president of the WTA, for the next CEO. Allaster said during a difficult time for her candidacy, she privately asked Simon if he would be in a better position to lead the organization.

“Without a blink of an eye he turned to me and said, ‘No, we’re going to stay the course,’” Allaster said.

Six years later, after Allaster decided to step down, the WTA board unanimously chose Simon to succeed him. He has since cultivated the support of the sport’s biggest stars of the present and past, including Serena Williams and King, the founder of the WTA, while maintaining his decades-long relationship with the tournament directors who were his initial base of support. .

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