Chinese star Peng Shuai withdraws sexual assault claims. WTA disgruntled
In a recent statement, Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai has denied that she had accused a former senior official of sexual assault. As per a report in The Guardian, Peng withdrew her claims in her first foreign press interview since her lengthy statement on Weibo in November created a buzz. However, the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) still has "significant concerns about her well-being".
Why does it matter?
- The whereabouts of the Chinese tennis player, Peng Shuai, have been a matter of international concern.
- She went missing after accusing former vice-premier, Zhang Gaoli, of sexual assault in November.
- Although the Chinese media released videos that show Peng, the evidence remained insufficient as per the WTA.
- The global tennis body even suspended future tournaments in China.
- Peng's latest claim baffles everyone.
Here is what Peng said
Peng's interview with Singapore's Lianhe Zaobao, a Chinese-language publication, came to light on Sunday. "I wanted to make this very clear: I have never claimed, or written about anyone having sexually assaulted me," Peng said. "With regards to Weibo, it's about my personal privacy ... There's been a lot of misunderstanding ... There [should be] no distorted interpretation."
Qingqing Chen, a Global Times journalist, posts Peng's video
A friend sent me this video showing Chinese tennis star player Peng Shuai talked with Yao Ming, one of the most beloved players in @NBA history, this morning at an event “FIS Cross-Country Skiing China City Tour’ in Shanghai. pic.twitter.com/Ebduv5rean— Qingqing_Chen (@qingqingparis) December 19, 2021
WTA still concerned about Peng's safety
The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) is still concerned about Peng's safety. In another statement, the tennis body showed "significant concerns about her well-being and ability to communicate without censorship or coercion".
Peng went missing in November
On November 2, Peng, through a statement, revealed that she and Zhang had an on-off "extramarital relationship". She highlighted that Zhang once invited her to play tennis with him where he and his wife sexually assaulted Peng. While Peng went missing, the Chinese government remained silent on this matter. The sensors in China had deleted Peng's post in less than 30 minutes.
The controversy regarding Peng's mail to WTA boss Steve Simon
Last month, China's state-run English-language broadcaster, CGTN, claimed that Peng had sent a mail to WTA boss Steve Simon, stating, "The news in that [WTA press] release, including the allegation of sexual assault, is not true." Simon had dismissed these claims. In her latest statement, Peng confirmed that the Chinese version of the mail was written by her to Simon.
'Why would there be people following me?'
"But they more or less said the same thing," said Peng. She added that her response to Simon was "entirely on my own volition". "Why would there be people following me?" she answered when questioned about her well-being.
Peng Shuai is a two-time Grand Slam champion
Peng Shuai is a two-time Grand Slam champion in women's doubles. She won Wimbledon in 2013 along with Hsieh Su-wei, while the duo overcame Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci to win the 2014 French Open. In the same year, Peng reached the semi-final of the US Open (singles). Her last appearance in a Grand Slam tournament was at the Australian Open in 2020.