WTA Chief: Email Only Raises Concerns About Tennis Star

He doesn't believe email in Chinese state media is really from Peng Shuai
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 18, 2021 4:59 AM CST
Tennis Officials Doubt Email From Missing Tennis Star
China's Peng Shuai plays a shot against Romania's Sorana Cirstea during their first round match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium, in Paris, France. Tuesday, May 30, 2017.   (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)

Tennis officials say they have serious doubts about an email purporting to be from Peng Shuai, the top Chinese player who has been out of sight since she accused a former government official of sexual assault earlier this month. The email shared by state-controlled English-language broadcaster China Global Television Network says the allegation against former vice premier Zhang Gaoli "is not true," the New York Times reports. "I am not missing, nor am I unsafe," the email says. "I've just been resting at home and everything is fine." Peng hadn't been heard from since Nov. 2, when she made the allegation in a post on social media site Weibo that was later taken down. Chinese censors also removed all discussion of the post.

Commentators online said the email seemed dubious—and since a cursor appeared in a screenshot of the email tweeted by CGTN, some said they doubted whether it was even an email, the BBC reports. Steve Simon, chief executive of the WTA Tour, said he had been unable to reach Peng and the statement released by state media only raises his "concerns as to her safety and whereabouts." "I have a hard time believing that Peng Shuai actually wrote the email we received or believes what is being attributed to her," Simon said in a statement. He said Peng's allegation must be investigated and she "must be allowed to speak freely, without coercion or intimidation from any source." (Naomi Osaka says she is "in shock" at the situation.)

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