Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai has not been seen in public since she accused a government official of sexual assault. But who is Peng Shuai and what is the mysterious email?
Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai continues to go missing and there are real concerns for her safety and wellbeing.
The former US Open semi-finalist went missing after publicly accusing a member of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) of sexual assault.
The post has been dismantled and the tennis player’s whereabouts are currently unknown.
Chinese state media released an email claiming she was safe.
But the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has expressed doubts.
Several celebrities and tennis stars have voiced their anger and concerns.
Stars like Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka and Brit Andy Murray have expressed their support.
Williams said she was “devastated” and “shocked” when she heard the news.
Then why did she disappear?
Who is tennis player Peng Shuai?
Peng is a successful tennis player and was ranked 14th best single player in 2011.
She also won the French Open and Wimbledon in doubles.
In 2014 she became the first Chinese player to reach number one in the world rankings in doubles.
In addition to stars like Li Na, she is credited with promoting the Chinese game and increasing its popularity.
She was born in Xiangtan in 1986 and won her first individual title at the age of 15.
Her WTA profile says she was introduced to tennis by her uncle when she was eight and admired John McEnroe growing up.
As a popular character, she hasn’t been seen in public since posting on social media.
Why is Peng Shuai missing?
Michail Swetlow / Getty Images)
The Chinese authorities are notoriously clumsy with votes against them.
People will often go missing because of criticism of the regime, and that is why people are so concerned for Peng Shuai’s welfare.
She made allegations against former Chinese Deputy Prime Minister Zhang Gaoli on Chinese social media site Weibo on November 2.
Peng claimed that she was having an extramarital affair with Zhang, now 75, but he stopped contacting her when he rose higher up in the CCP.
She claims that Zhang invited her to play tennis at her home three years ago, where he sexually abused her.
The post was quickly removed and references to it on the Chinese internet were removed. It is reported that even the word “tennis” has been censored.
What did the Peng Shuai email say?
AFP via Getty Images)
An email was sent to WTA officials and published by CGTN, the Chinese state media, on November 17th. CGTN has been criticized as a propaganda channel for the CCP.
“Hi everyone, this is Peng Shuai,” the email said.
“Regarding the recent news posted on the WTA official website, the content has not been verified or verified by me and it has been published without my consent.
“The news in this press release, including the sexual assault allegations, is not true. I am neither missed nor unsure. I just got a rest at home and everything is fine. Thank you again for looking after me.
“If the WTA publishes further news about me, please check it out with me and release it with my consent. As a professional tennis player, I thank you all for your guidance and consideration.
“I hope to promote Chinese tennis with all of you when I have the chance in the future. I hope Chinese tennis just keeps getting better.”
“Thank you again for your consideration.”
WTA boss Steve Simon had doubts about the credibility of the emails, saying the email only “raised his concerns”.
“I find it hard to believe that Peng Shuai actually wrote the email we received or believes what is being attributed to it,” he said.