New York: Peng Shuai refused to surrender her US Open dream in the locker room on Friday, preferring to go down in glory on a packed Arthur Ashe Stadium despite heat illness leaving her a tearful, crumbling wreck.
Shuai Peng is taken from the court in a wheelchair after an injury against Caroline Wozniacki during their US Open semi-final in New York on Friday. Pic/AFP
Peng was trailing Caroline Wozniacki 7-6 (7/1) 4-3 in her semi-final when she left the court to seek treatment - at the time believed to be for cramping — and play was held up for 10 minutes.
The 28-year-old Chinese star returned, played a few points but then collapsed to the ground before being taken from the court in a wheelchair in agony and in tears, surrounded by medical staff and officials.
No mood to give up
"The doctor said to me, You are not able really go out to fight and compete, because you don't look well. But I said, no, no, no, I don't want to give up. I want to try one more time," she explained.
"And then I come back. I know I'm not going to stay too long, but I just wanted to try to challenge her one more time."
As she keeled over behind the baseline and with temperatures believed to be in the low 30-degrees, she said she could not remember if she offered to default or whether the decision was made for her.
"My body was really hot and I could not really breathe. I could not remember. Maybe, they didn't want me to die on court."
Tournament director David Brewer defended the decision to allow Peng to return to the court. "Peng wanted to go back on court and the trainer and doctor believed she would not endanger herself, she's a highly-trained athlete," added Brewer.
Watching from the commentary box, legend John McEnroe was not impressed. "I feel sick to the stomach just watching this," he said.
Wozniacki she was unconcerned if the delay broke the rules governing medical timeouts — a 10-minute delay for cramping would usually attract a sanction. She went over to Peng to console her opponent.
"It was really hard to watch for me whenever I saw her collapse on the court. Tennis is great, but the health is more important. I just wanted to make sure she was OK.
I got the word that she's OK now and just getting cooled down, so that's great to hear," said the Dane.