The Reuters global sports blog
Hit with Maria? A perk of the job for China’s leaders
As mayor of Beijing for most of the period running up to the 2008 Olympics and now Vice Premier of China with responsibility for financial and economic affairs, Wang Qishan has been a very busy man over the last few years.
He has, however, made time to indulge his passion for tennis and been highly influential in the growth of the China Open tournament, now one of the top events in women’s tennis with ambitions of becoming an Asian major.
Wang also likes to take to the court, and who can blame him when he is offered the chance to trade forehands with some of the best women in the professional game?
“I know for a fact he’s played many of our (women) players behind closed doors, as have many members of the standing committee,” Beijing-based WTA President David Shoemaker revealed during an interview with Reuters this week.
“It’s often been boasted that that’s one of the rare opportunities outside of one of the standing committee meetings, where you get three or four of the members together.
“But when you get Maria Sharapova, Elena Dementieva and Serena Williams eager to have a hit with you, it can mobilise forces pretty quickly.”
Even as Vice Premier, Wang is not senior enough to take a place in the nine-strong Politburo Standing Committee, the highest decision-making body in China.