WTA chairman to pull out of China if Peng Shuai's safety not taken care of; Serena Williams expresses concern

WION Web Team
New Delhi, India Published: Nov 19, 2021, 09:02 AM(IST)

This file photo taken on January 21, 2020 shows China's Peng Shuai hitting a return against Japan's Nao Hibino during a match of the Australian Open. Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

In a social media post on November 2, the tennis player had claimed that China's former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli had "forced" her into sex during a long-term on-off relationship. Her post on Weibo was deleted within 30 minutes

The head of the Women's Tennis Association (WTA), Steve Simon, in an interview with CNN, has said that he is in favour of pulling business even if that means losing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of business in China if tennis player Peng Shuai's safety is not fully accounted for. 

While speaking to CNN, he said, "We're definitely willing to pull our business and deal with all the complications that come with it. Because this is certainly, this is bigger than the business." 

Shuai went missing after she alleged that a powerful Chinese politician sexually assaulted her. 

In a social media post on November 2, the tennis player had claimed that China's former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli had "forced" her into sex during a long-term on-off relationship. Her post on Weibo was deleted within 30 minutes. 

Also read | A letter from Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai claiming she is 'fine' and 'resting at home' raises concerns

After Japanese star Naomi Osaka, American professional tennis player Serena Williams has raised concerns over the whereabouts of Shuai. This comes after a letter, purportedly from Shuai claimed that she is not missing or unsafe as she is just resting at home and everything is fine.

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Williams joined other sports stars by tweeting under the hashtag #WhereIsPengShuai. In a tweet, she wrote, "I am devastated and shocked to hear about the news of my peer, Peng Shuai. I hope she is safe and found as soon as possible. This must be investigated and we must not stay silent. Sending love to her and her family during this incredibly difficult time."

Not just Osaka and Williams, but Novak Djokovic and several other players have said that they were deeply worried.

The letter has raised more concerns as even the head of the WTA on Wednesday voiced doubt over the letter he received as an email. 

Also read | 'I'm in shock': Naomi Osaka concerned over missing Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai's whereabouts

A part of the letter read: "Regarding the recent news released on the official website of the WTA, the content has not been confirmed or verified by myself and it was released without my consent"

"The news in that release, including the allegation of sexual assault, is not true. I’m not missing, nor I am unsafe. I’ve just been resting at home and everything is fine. Thank you again for caring about me," it added. 

 

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