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China tennis star Peng Shuai denies she made sexual assault allegations in new video

Peng Shuai
Peng Shuai

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    Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai now denies in new video that she was sexually assaulted. 

    A misunderstanding: Peng, the world’s No. 1 doubles player in 2014, said in a public statement on Sunday that people misunderstood her Weibo post from Nov. 2 in which she alleged former Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli sexually assaulted her in 2018 at his home, Reuters reported.

    • Speaking in a video posted by Singapore newspaper LianheZaobao, Peng said she has “never said or written that anyone has sexually assaulted me, I have to clearly stress this point.”
    • The interview, conducted during a skiing event in Shanghai, was the first time she directly addressed the controversy since disappearing from public view in early November. 

    • According to the 35-year-old athlete, her immediately deleted original post resulted in “many misunderstandings.”
    • Peng, who wore a jacket emblazoned with the Chinese flag during the interview, did not provide further details about the perceived allegation, noting that it was a “private matter.”
    • She added that she is not under any supervision while staying at her Beijing home, addressing concerns that her safety and freedom have been at risk.
    • In a statement, the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) said it was “good to see Peng Shuai in a public setting and we certainly hope she is doing well.”
    • The organizing body, however, noted that the appearance “[does] not alleviate or address the WTA’s significant concerns about her well-being and ability to communicate without censorship or coercion.” 
    • In the video, Peng also claimed she wrote the November 17 email to WTA Chairman and CEO Steve Simon denying she made allegations of the assault and asserting that she was safe.
    • At the time, Simon responded in a statement that he “had a hard time believing” Peng wrote the letter.

    A worried community: Concerns about Peng’s safety and whereabouts arose immediately after the athlete shared a post describing how former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli forced her into sex three years ago, as NextShark previously reported.

    • The incident allegedly happened after the 75-year-old former member of the highly influential Politburo Standing Committee invited her to dinner with him and his wife.
    • “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,’” she wrote in her post about her experience.
    • Peng’s post became a trending topic on local social media, but the discussions about it were immediately blocked on major platforms.
    • When Peng “vanished” on social media, the WTA and other concerned individuals called for an investigation into the athlete’s safety.
    • Earlier this month, the WTA announced that it would suspend tournaments in China due to continued concerns for Shuai’s safety.

    Featured Image via zaobaosg

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