WTA ‘remains concerned' about Chinese ‘me-too' tennis star Peng Shuai

beijing, china, tennis

Peng Shuai disappeared from public view for three weeks after accusing former Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault. AP Photo/Andy Brownbill, File

The head of the Women’s Tennis Association said he “remains deeply concerned” about Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai after she accused a top official of sexual assault.

Steve Simon said he would not continue to email with the 35-year-old tennis star because he is not convinced her earlier notes were not “influenced by others,” AFP reported.

One of China’s top tennis stars and currently ranked 192nd in the world, Peng disappeared from public view for three weeks after posting the accusations against the former Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli, 75, in a 1,600-word testimony on the Chinese social media platform Weibo earlier this month.

The WTA wants proof she is safe.

Her cause has also been championed by top tennis stars Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka and Novak Djokovic, along with the sport’s legend Martina Navratilova.

Peng told International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach she was safe and well in a video call last Sunday. But Saturday, a WTA spokesman said Simon “remains deeply concerned that Peng is not free from censorship or coercion and decided not to re-engage via email until he was satisfied her responses were her own, and not those of her censors.”

beijing, china, tennis

Zhang Gaoli was accused by Peng of sexual assault.

AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein

“The WTA remains concerned about her ability to communicate freely, openly, and directly.”

Simon has threatened to pull the WTA’s business out of China.

There are 10 WTA events scheduled to take place in the country in 2022, including the Wuhan Open — the first major tournament in the city since the pandemic started there — and WTA finals in Shenzhen, the BBC reported.

beijing, china, tennis

Steve Simon is not convinced Peng’s earlier notes were not “influenced by others.”

AP Photo/Yong Teck Lim, File

China has reacted angrily to the attention to her accusations and the skeptical response to the call with the IOC.

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