Tennis Star Alleges Sex Assault: 'I Feel Like a Walking Corpse'

China quashes discussion of Peng Shuai allegations
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 5, 2021 3:43 AM CDT
China Quashes Tennis Star's #MeToo Accusation
Then Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli is seen during a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Wednesday, March 16, 2016.   (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)

Chinese authorities have squelched virtually all online discussion of sexual assault accusations apparently made by a Chinese professional tennis star against a former top government official, showing how sensitive the ruling Communist Party is to such charges. In a lengthy social media post that disappeared quickly, Peng Shuai wrote that Zhang Gaoli, a former vice premier and member of the party's all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee, had forced her to have sex despite repeated refusals following a round of tennis three years ago, the AP reports. CNN explains her post "alleges a relationship over an intermittent period that spanned at least 10 years."

The 35-year-old claims the two had consensual sex more than a decade ago, but that as Zhang, now 75, moved up the political ranks he ended things with her. She wrote that it was only after his retirement three years ago that he extended the invite to play tennis. She says she accompanied Zhang and his wife to their home afterward and spent the afternoon refusing to have sex, but ultimately relented. "I was panicking and I was scared, and I agreed to it with my feelings for you from seven years ago," the post read. "I couldn't describe how disgusted I was, and how many times I asked myself am I still a human? I feel like a walking corpse. Every day I was acting, which person is the real me?"

Peng is a former top-ranked doubles player, taking 23 tour-level doubles titles, including Grand Slams at Wimbledon in 2013 and the French Open in 2014. Peng hasn’t played at the top tier since the Qatar Open in February 2020. The AP could not verify the authenticity of her post, which was made late Tuesday night by her verified account on Weibo, a leading Chinese social media platform. The post was removed soon after, and a search on Weibo for Peng's account now turns up no results. The accusation is the first against a prominent government official since the #MeToo movement took hold in China in 2018.

(More China stories.)

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