Peng Shuai denies sexual assault again but WTA remain concerned

Peng Shuai largely disappeared from the public limelight after accusing a high-ranking Chinese official of coerced sexual relations.

Peng Shuai in a file photo. (Image: Twitter)

Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai has once again denied being a victim of sexual assault in a new interview.

Peng had largely disappeared from the public limelight after accusing a high-ranking Chinese official of coerced sexual relations.

However, Shuai has since said that she is well and that Zhang Gaoli, the former Chinese vice premier, did not in fact sexually assault her.

She repeats this claim in a new interview while saying her post on Weibo caused a ‘huge misunderstanding’.

“I never said anyone had sexually assaulted me in any way,” Peng told L’Equipe. Peng was accompanied by Chinese Olympic Committee chief of staff Wang Kan during the interview; it took place on the sidelines of the Winter Olympics in Beijing.

That being said, the WTA is not convinced of the star’s safety. In a statement, WTA chairman Steve Simon said their concerns remain unaddressed.

“It’s always good to see Peng Shuai, whether in an interview or attending the Olympic Games. However, her recent in-person interview does not alleviate any of our concerns about her initial post from November 2nd.

“To reiterate our view, Peng took a bold step in publicly coming forth with the accusation that she was sexually assaulted by a senior Chinese government leader.

“As we would do with any of our players globally, we have called for a formal investigation into the allegations by the appropriate authorities and an opportunity for the WTA to meet with Peng – privately – to discuss her situation.

“We continue to hold firm on our position and our thoughts remain with Peng Shuai.”

The Peng Shuai allegations and how it sparked a global movement

Peng, who is one of China’s most well-known tennis stars, shocked the world when, in a Weibo post, she accused a high-ranking member of the government of sexual assault.

She would delete the post soon thereafter, but three weeks after that her whereabouts were unknown of.

This led to tennis players around the world questioning the Chinese government on the star’s safety. And #WhereIsPengShuai became a globally trending hashtag on Twitter and other social media.

She would emerge in a video interview stating she was safe and healthy. However, this was dubbed a farce by many and the movement continued to grow.

Peng is now back in the public limelight, but denies making the accusations in the first place. This itself has led many to believe she is not doing this of her own will.

The fact that the Chinese media has stopped reporting on the matter at all also raises questions.

Sportslumo Desk

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