Getty Images

For the first time since 2021, the Women's Tennis Association will return to China later this year. The WTA has been boycotting events in China since former No. 1 player Peng Shuai accused China's former vice premier, Zhang Gaoli, of sexual assault. The WTA announced its decision on Thursday and said that, despite China not meeting its requests, it will return to the country for tournaments in September.

"After 16 months of suspended tennis competition in China and sustained efforts at achieving our original requests, the situation has shown no sign of changing," the WTA said in its announcement. "We have concluded we will never fully secure those goals, and it will be our players and tournaments who ultimately will be paying an extraordinary price for their sacrifices.

"For these reasons, the WTA is lifting its suspension of the operation of tournaments in the People's Republic of China ("PRC") and will resume tournaments in China this September."

Shaui's accusations of sexual assault were never investigated, and Zhang did not receive any discipline for his alleged actions. The WTA did say that Shaui was safe at her home in Beijing, and it has been assured that WTA players and staff will be protected while working in China.

"We have not been able to achieve everything we set out for, but we have been in touch with people close to Peng and are assured she is living safely with her family in Beijing," the WTA said. "We also have received assurances that WTA players and staff operating in China will be safe and protected while in the country. The WTA takes this commitment seriously and will hold all parties responsible."

The WTA also said that, by boycotting events in China for the last 16 months, it "forfeited our ability to provide women in the region with opportunities to advance professionally through tennis."

This decision comes just a few months after the WTA said it would require a resolution for Shuai's case before returning to China.