Peng Shuai, a Chinese tennis player has denied that he had an affair with his mixed doubles partner. The news made headlines after it was revealed that Peng’s wife also played in the same event as their teammates and sometimes shared a hotel room.
Peng Shuai, a Chinese tennis player, has denied rumors that she is having an affair with her husband.
HONG KONG, China— Peng Shuai, a Chinese tennis player, denied accusing anybody of sexual assault, claiming that misconceptions were to blame for a worldwide outpouring of concern for her safety and well-being.
“I’ve never claimed or written about being sexually attacked by anybody.” Ms. Peng said in a six-minute video interview with Singapore’s Lianhe Zaobao, a Chinese-language daily published by state-controlled Singapore Press Holdings Ltd., that “this is extremely essential and has to be clear.”
“There has been a lot of misunderstanding,” Ms. Peng said in the interview, adding that the subject involves “my personal privacy.”
“Any distorted interpretations should be avoided,” she warned.
Last year, China’s Peng Shuai visited Melbourne, Australia.
Andy Brownbill/Associated Press photo
Her comments come after a post on Ms. Peng’s verified social-media account on Nov. 2 that detailed an on-again, off-again relationship with former Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli that spanned years and was sometimes consensual and sometimes coercive. Mr. Zhang allegedly forced Ms. Peng to have sex with him in one case, although the post did not use the Chinese word for sexual assault to describe the incident.
After roughly 20 minutes, the post from November 2 vanished. Ms. Peng’s social media account is still active, but the commenting feature has been deactivated, and her name is no longer searchable.
The Women’s Tennis Association said that Ms. Peng’s interview did not alleviate worries about her.
“We remain adamant in our demand for a comprehensive, fair, and public inquiry into her accusation of sexual assault, free of censorship,” the group added.
The video apparently failed to persuade other renowned tennis players. In reaction to the footage, 18-time Grand Slam winner Martina Navratilova remarked on Twitter, “Total and total BS.”
Chris Evert, another Grand Slam champion with 18 championships, commented on Twitter, “This is… unnerving…”
Ms. Peng was first put at the center of a media storm as a result of the Weibo post. On Nov. 14, almost two weeks later, the WTA chairman, Steve Simon, stated the organization had been unable to contact Ms. Peng despite numerous efforts and asked for an inquiry into her accusation.
Ms. Peng claimed in an interview published Sunday that she personally sent Mr. Simon an email in Chinese. She went on to explain that an English-language version released on Nov. 17 by China’s state-run broadcaster CGTN was a translation, claiming that the sexual-assault accusation was false and that “everything is good.”
“There is no change in terms of meaning and information,” she stated of the two versions.
Mr. Simon said the email prompted greater worries about her safety and location at the time it was received. Using the Twitter hashtag #WhereIsPengShuai, other tennis players, including Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams, expressed their worry about her.
The event has sparked widespread concern for Ms. Peng’s health and safety across the world. International pressure, according to Mr. Simon, might assist explain the issue and safeguard Ms Peng. As a consequence, the WTA declared earlier this month that future events in China would be canceled. Human rights groups have urged for a boycott of the Winter Olympics, which start in Beijing in February, citing China’s human rights record and claiming that Ms. Peng is not really free.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has said that it is unaware of Ms. Peng’s claims. Official daily transcripts issued by the ministry deleted questions and answers concerning Ms. Peng. Ms. Peng’s plight has received little attention on China’s carefully censored internet.
The Foreign Ministry has condemned efforts to politicize the Olympic Games in 2022.
Ms. Peng’s interview came just hours after Chen Qingqing, a journalist for the nationalist state-owned Global Times, shared a seven-second video clip on Twitter—which is blocked in China—of Ms. Peng with retired Chinese basketball star Yao Ming, who is now the chairman of the Chinese Basketball Association.
Ms. Chen said that she got the video from a friend and that it was filmed on Sunday morning in Shanghai during the International Ski Federation’s Cross-Country Skiing China City Tour, the same event where Ms. Peng was interviewed by Singapore’s Lianhe Zaobao.
The tennis star, dressed in a black down jacket and a scarlet T-shirt with Chinese characters, also told the Lianhe Zaobao reporter that she had been living freely.
“What makes you think I’m being watched?” Ms. Peng said, “I’ve always been really free.”
When asked about the two video conversations she had with the International Olympic Committee in late November and early December, Ms. Peng stated that the first one took place at her house and thanked IOC President Thomas Bach and IOC Athletes’ Commission Chairwoman Emma Terho for conducting the call.
Ms. Peng’s initial phone chat with the IOC came hours after she was spotted at Beijing’s National Tennis Center and in social media video eating at a restaurant.
Ms. Peng was safe at home in Beijing at the time, and she had requested that her privacy be respected, according to the IOC, without explicitly addressing the sexual-assault claims.
A Twitter account claiming to belong to Ding Li, one of the persons who had previously shared images of the supper with Ms. Peng, tweeted a series of photos showing the tennis star with several people, including Mr. Yao, on Sunday. Mr. Ding did not reply to a request for comment right away. Mr. Yao did not react to a request for comment sent to his charity right away.
On Nov. 26, the account also shared an image of an email dated Nov. 22, signed with Ms. Peng’s identity and addressed to a Mr. Simon, in which she claimed to have written an email to him and three other persons on Nov. 17. She also expressed her desire that no one would sensationalize her personal matters in the email.
“If you want me to go overseas and watch a tournament, it would be reasonable,” Ms. Peng stated in her interview when questioned about her intentions to go abroad. But you can’t tell me I need to travel overseas to show myself. Tell me what I’d be doing if I went overseas.”
Sha Hua can be reached at [email protected]
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The “peng shuai original weibo” is a blog post by Chinese Tennis Star Peng Shuai denying she made sexual comments. The blog post was posted on both the English and Chinese versions of her Weibo account.
- peng shuai weibo post
- peng shuai post
- peng shuai post translated