A look at China’s female tennis stars: From Peng Shuai to Zheng Saisai and Wang Xinyu

Lucy Roberts
China's Peng Shuai in action

Ever since WTA player Peng Shuai mysteriously went missing after accusing a former government official of sexual assault, she has been hitting the headlines non-stop.

She called out former Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli, accusing him of sexual assault on the Chinese social media platform Weibo, however she has recently resurfaced through emails and a video call with the IOC President Thomas Bach after disappearing for several weeks.

Peng isn’t the only female player from China, but she was a shining star for the country, winning 25 titles across singles and doubles tournaments and bringing in $10million in prize money.

Lucy Roberts takes a look at the country’s standout stars, some of them have already reached the pinnacle of their careers and others are just beginning.

Zhang Shuai

WTA Ranking: No 62

The 32-year-old has won 24 singles titles and 19 doubles titles, including the 2019 Australian Open and the 2021 US Open with her Brisbane-born partner Samantha Stosur.

Zhang caused a big stir in the singles at Wimbledon in 2019 as she managed to reach the quarter-finals but was beaten by Simona Halep in straight sets, however she is now one of five Chinese players to reach the last-eight stage at a Grand Slam.

The US Open winner began playing tennis at six-years-old when her parents, former football and basketball players, took her to her local club and she turned professional eight years later aged 14.

Zheng Saisai

WTA Ranking: No 80

After winning one WTA singles title, five WTA doubles titles and reaching the final of the 2019 French Open in doubles, Zheng reached a record high of No 34 in the world singles rankings in 2020 and No 15 in the doubles rankings four years earlier.

She won her only singles title at the Stanford Classic in 2019, beating Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka in the final having upset the likes of Maria Sakkari and Amanda Anisimova along the way.

In the same year, the 27-year-old made it to her first Grand Slam women’s doubles final, the French Open, alongside doubles partner Duan Yingying however they lost in straight sets.

Wang Xinyu

WTA Ranking: No 102

At only 20 years old, Wang knocked out British No 1 Emma Raducanu at the Linz Open earlier in November – she took the deciding third set to win the match.

Despite only turning pro in 2018, she booked herself a place in her first Grand Slam maiden draw that very same year and it wasn’t just any competition, it was the season opening major, the Australian Open.

Wang is also a great challenger in doubles, she won her first WTA Tour-level final in 2019 playing alongside Zhu Lin to beat fellow Chinese players Zhang Shuai and Peng Shuai.

She’s young, on her way up and is already beating the likes of Raducanu – Wang could be a serious contender to replace Peng.

Wang Qiang

WTA Ranking: No 106

US Open quarter-finalist Wang reached No 12 in the rankings in 2019 which wasn’t only the highest she’d ever got but it meant she also became the second-highest ranked Chinese player in history – Li Na is first.

Wang has managed to reach a handful of Grand Slam main draws in her career, notably the French Open, US Open and Australian Open where she beat Serena Williams in the 2020 competition, as well as the Rio and Tokyo Olympics.

The 29-year-old has two WTA Tour singles titles to her name and also won the gold medal at the Asian Games in 2018, defeating Zhang Shuai in the final to win.

Zheng Qinwen

WTA Ranking: No 126

Zheng is very new to the game, only starting her professional career earlier this year when she won the Tennis Future Hamburg competition, defeating 16-year-old Czech player Linda Fruhvirtova in the final.

The 19-year-old made her debut on the WTA Tour in July when she took part in the 2021 Palermo Open, beating title winning Liudmila Samsonova from Russia in the first round.

Wang Xiyu

WTA Ranking: No 131

The 20-year-old shone during her junior career, winning the 2018 US Open Girls’ Singles competition, making it to the quarter-finals of the Australian and French Opens, becoming a semi-finalist at Wimbledon and subsequently being named junior world No 1 in 2018.

Wang has tried to carry her junior successes on into her professional career and although she hasn’t managed to win any big tournaments, she did make it to the main draw of the US Open in 2019 but she lost to Belgian star Kirsten Flipkens in the first round.

Zhu Lin

WTA Ranking: No 142

Zhu’s dad got her into tennis at a very early age, introducing her to the sport at just four-years-old and she has gone on to win ITF titles and reach the main draws of the majors.

In 2019, the Jiangxi Open doubles winner secured her first Grand Slam singles victory when she beat fellow Chinese player Wang Xinyu in the first round of the US Open in straight sets.

Peng Shuai

WTA Ranking: No 304

Peng achieved a career high of No 14 in the singles, but has slipped down the rankings in recent years.

A former doubles world No 1, Peng’s biggest titles came at Wimbledon in 2013 when she teamed up with Hsieh Su-wei to win a maiden Grand Slam while the following year they teamed up again to win the French Open.

Although she has not competed since 2019, Peng is yet to confirm if she has retired.