Peng Shuai: Serena Williams And Andy Murray Urge Public To Help Find ‘Missing’ Tennis Star
Tennis stars including Serena Williams and Andy Murray are calling for an investigation into the whereabouts of Chinese player Peng Shuai.
The 35-year-old is the former tennis doubles world number one, winning Wimbledon in 2013 and the French Open in 2014, and she has not been publicly heard from for over two weeks, prompting concerns over her safety and wellbeing.
Concerns over Peng grew after she accused a senior figure in the Chinese government of sexual assault. Writing on the Chinese social media site Weibo, Peng alleged that China’s former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli, 75, sexually assaulted her in his home.
The post and subsequent reactions to it have since been taken down by China’s censors, and many references to Peng have been removed from the internet in China, The Guardian reports.
Chinese state media has published an email supposedly from Peng saying the allegations she made are ‘not true’, but doubt has been cast on it actually being written by her or representing her views accurately, BBC News reports.
Women’s Tennis Association chairman Steve Simon said: ‘I have a hard time believing that Peng Shuai actually wrote the email we received or believes what is being attributed to her.
‘Peng Shuai displayed incredible courage in describing an allegation of sexual assault against a former top official in the Chinese government. The WTA and the rest of the world need independent and verifiable proof that she is safe.
‘I have repeatedly tried to reach her via numerous forms of communication, to no avail.’
Simon says he has received ‘assurances’ from the Chinese Tennis Association that Peng is ‘safe and not under any physical threat’, but neither he nor anyone else from the WTA has been able to confirm this.
Famous figures in tennis have also joined the calls for news of Peng’s whereabouts, with Serena Williams and Andy Murray among those taking to social media to raise awareness that she is missing, along with the hashtag #whereispengshuai.
According to The Guardian, the language of the supposed letter from Peng saying everything is all right is similar to forced confessions from others detained by the Chinese government.
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