BEIJING (AP) — Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai She denied that she had been sexually assaulted. However, her November Social Media post claimed that she was forced to sex by a top Communist Party official.

Peng posted a video to YouTube of the Lianhe Zaobao Chinese newspaper. It said it was shot Sunday in Shanghai. Peng stated that she had been mostly staying in Beijing and was now free to go wherever she pleased.

“First of all, I want to emphasize something that is very important. It has never been stated that any person sexually assaulted or abused me. I need to emphasize this point very clearly,” Peng told the newspaper’s reporter.

The reporter did not ask how or why the lengthy and highly detailed Nov. 2 post appeared or whether Peng’s account had been hacked.

China’s Peng Shai was seen playing in a singles match at the 2020 Australian Open tennis championship. She denied that she had been sexually assaulted.
via Associated Press

Peng was interviewed by the newspaper at a promotion event for Beijing’s Winter Olympic Games, which began February 4. On the observation deck at the facility, she was filming Yao Ming (former NBA star) and other Chinese athletes as they watched freestyle skiing.

Peng resigned after an accusation made against Zhang Gaoli, former Vice Premier of China, briefly surfaced on Weibo’s verified Weibo and was quickly removed. Screen shots of the post were shared across the internet, drawing widespread concern about Peng’s safety from politicians, fellow tennis stars and the Women’s Tennis Association, which announced it was suspending all events in China indefinitely.

Three-time Olympian and ex-Wimbledon champion was seen standing by a Beijing tennis court signing and waving commemorative tennis balls. Peng, the foreign arm of state TV issued an English statement that was retracted Zhang’s accusations.

WTA chief executive Steve Simon questioned the emailed statement’s legitimacy while others said it only increased their concern about her safety. Peng claimed that the Chinese language statement was written by her, which was translated later into English. But there wasn’t any substantive difference between these versions.

Zhang, 75, was a member of the party’s all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee until 2018 and a top lieutenant to president and party leader Xi Jinping. He has not appeared in public or commented on Peng’s accusation.

Simon said the move to put a halt to the tour’s play in China, including Hong Kong, came with the backing of the WTA board of directors, players, tournaments and sponsors. It was the strongest public stand against China taken by a sports body — and one that could cost the WTA millions of dollars.

Simon has made repeated calls for China to carry out an inquiry into the 35-year-old Peng’s accusations and to allow the WTA to communicate directly with the former No. 1 ranked doubles player; owner of Wimbledon and French Open titles.

However, the IOC took a completely different approach. Top officials said that they believed Peng was fine after video-chatting with her.

The controversy surrounding Peng has added to protests over Beijing’s hosting of the Winter Games because of the government’s human rights abuses.


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