China’s Peng Shuai and Hsieh Su-wei of Taiwan have forged a tennis doubles partnership that bridges the divide between the two sides, saying sport can take the heat out of the toughest situations.
The pairing, who play in the Wimbledon women’s doubles semi-finals today, say their partnership is all about firm friendship — and they leave the political stuff to others.
Peng and Hsieh, born four days apart in January 1986, have been mates since their junior days and won the first of their five tour titles together back in 2008.
Their closeness has endured and the warmth between the 27-year-olds is obvious, with the pair constantly laughing and joking in each other’s company.
“After a long time playing together, we still have some tough days; sometimes I will not play really good, sometimes her. We have to help each other and we both try together,” Peng said. “We have good times and winning tournaments makes us really happy.”
“She plays most of the court and I stay by the sidelines,” Hsieh added. “She’s working very hard. We enjoy it.”
“If we don’t fight, there will be no problem,” she joked.
“We speak the same language and we’ve known each other and been friends since we were young,” Peng said. “We have fun and we really enjoy our tennis. I also love going to Taiwan, and after Wimbledon, she will come to Beijing and if she gets time, I will try to show her some Peking duck.”
Peng and Hsieh do not see the divisions between Taiwan and China, only what unites them in friendship and sport.
“We never talk about the country stuff,” Hsieh said.
“I think it’s too sensitive, the question of two countries or not,” Peng added. “This, for us, we’re not working for the government. Between us, it seems so easy: We’re good friends, we’re tennis players playing together and we will try our best on the court. Never mind about the country or not; we are just friends. It’s good that sport can make some tough situations feel simple and easy.”
Whether playing together or not, neither of them has ever reached the Wimbledon women’s doubles semi-finals before.
The eighth seeds hugged as they beat Jelena Jankovic of Serbia and Croatia’s Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 6-4, 7-5 on Wednesday on the 4,000-seater sunken Court 2.
They will play Japan’s Shuko Aoyama and Chanelle Scheepers of South Africa, an unseeded pairing, in the semi-finals today.
“For us, the sport, mentally, it’s a fight: Try your best and challenge ourselves,” Peng said. “It’s really exciting. We’re happy that we’re in the semi-finals. It’s the first time playing together, so it’s been a really good tournament so far.”