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WTA unconvinced about Peng Shuai’s well-being despite latest interview

The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) remains unconvinced over Peng Shuai’s well-being despite the Chinese tennis player appearing in public in recent weeks, and giving an interview to French publication L’Equipe. Shuai insisted during the interview that her post alleging sexual assault against former vice premier Zhang Gaoli was simply a “huge misunderstanding.”

Peng revealed that she was the one who deleted the post on Weibo after making sexual assault allegations against Zaoli, and disappearing from public view for a number of weeks. Initially, news of her whereabouts was only delivered via a video call to International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach.

The first interview to a foreign publication occurred this week when L’Equipe were given access to the women’s doubles Grand Slam winner albeit under a highly controlled environment. The publication had to submit their questions beforehand, and the interview was conducted in the presence of Chinese Olympic Committee members, who translated Shuai’s answers.


Factfile on the origins of China’s Peng Shuai row.
/ John SAEKI/AFP

The 36-year-old tennis star insisted that she never alleged sexual assault, and questioned why there was so much global concern about her well-being. Shuai was even spotted watching events at the ongoing Winter Olympics in China alongside IOC chief Bach.

Despite her public appearances, and interviews, WTA chief Steve Simon remains unconvinced about her well-being, and again spoke about a fair investigation on the allegations made on Nov. 2. The WTA has the support of its player council, and made it clear that they remain concerned about the tennis player’s state of affairs.

“Her recent in-person interview does not alleviate any of our concerns about her initial post from November 2nd,” Simon said, as quoted by the Daily Mail.

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

Peng Shuai
Peng Shuai is a former world number one in doubles
William WEST/AFP
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