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Tennis

Where is Peng Shuai? Campaign to locate missing tennis player gathers steam

The Women's Tennis Association, Japanese star tennis player Naomi Osaka and many others have come forward and raised their concerns over Shuai's whereabouts

Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai (Source: BBC)
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Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai (Source: BBC)

By

Soumya Bontra

Updated: 2021-11-17T16:19:48+05:30

Tennis players around the world and international tennis authorities are ramping up the questions on the continuing mystery over the whereabouts of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai, a former French Open doubles champion who allegedly disappeared just days after accusing a Chinese politician of sexual abuse.

The Women's Tennis Association has called on the Chinese government to investigate the matter and said that the player should be heard and not censored. In an interview with the New York Times, WTA chief Simon Steve has said, "(I) received confirmation from several sources, including the Chinese Tennis Association, that she is safe and not under any physical threat." However, those associated with the Tour, including officials and players, have not been able to speak with her directly to this date.

Japanese star tennis player Naomi Osaka has come forward and raised her concerns over Shuai's whereabouts. Osaka said, "Censorship is not okay at any cost. I hope Peng Shuai and her family are safe and okay. I'm in shock of the current situation and I'm sending love and light her way."

Novak Djokovic too described the incident as "shocking." He said, "I don't have much information about it. I did hear about it a week ago. Honestly, it's shocking that she's missing, more so that it's someone that I have seen on the Tour in the previous year's quite a few times.

"It's not much more to say than hope that she will be found, that she's OK. It's just terrible. I can imagine just how her family feels that she's missing"

French tennis player Alize Cornet, who has faced off twice with Peng Shuai on the international level, also tweeted, "Let's not remain silent. #WhereIsPengShuai"

American tennis legend Martina Navratilova has also backed the WTA's statement on the matter and called it "A very strong stance by WTA- and the correct stance!"

On November 13th, Peng Shuai allegedly disappeared just days after accusing a Chinese politician of sexual abuse.

Shuai, the 2014 French Open champion, accused the former vice-premier of Beijing, Zhang Gaoli, of sexual abuse via a Weibo post. In the post she said, Gaoli had forced her to have sex with him.

The post was deleted from Weibo within 20 minutes, along with all of Shuai's recent posts on the platform and since then, the Chinese tennis player has disappeared. The term 'wangqiu' - which means tennis in Chinese has also been censored on the Weibo app.

In her Weibo post, Shuai says, "I know I cannot explain this clearly, and even if I say it, it won't matter, but I still want to let it out. I am a hypocrite. I admit I am not a good woman, and am in fact, a very very bad woman. About three years ago, Zhang Gaoli vice president, you retired. You asked Dr. Liu at the Tianjin Tennis Centre to contact me, and asked me with play tennis with you at Kang Ming Hotel in Beijing. After we finished playing tennis, you and your wife Kang Jie brought me to your home. Then you took me into your room. Like what happened ten years ago in Tianjin, you wanted to have sex with me."

Former Chinese vice-premier Zhang Gaoli (Source: Free Press Journal)

Shuai further explained how she and Gaoli were romantically involved and even his wife Kang Jie was aware of it. She also mentions how Kang Jie had treated her with unfairness and humiliated her on several occasions. Shuai later said that she didn't feel human anymore and felt like a soulless creature faking her daily life. "I shouldn't have come to this world, but I don't have the courage to die." Shuai and Gaoli had an argument when she said she wanted to live a simple life. Gaoli ignored her and later dumped her after three year long relationship.

Shuai even mentioned that she has no evidence to prove what had happened between herself and Gaoli. She ended the post by saying, "For someone as prominent as yourself, I know you said you are not afraid. But it doesn't matter if I'm hitting a rock with an egg, or being a moth that flies towards the flame, I am telling the truth about what happened between us. With your intelligence and wits I am sure you will either deny it, or blame it on me, or you could simply play it cool. We sure all like to pretend we are virtuous..."

Peng Shuai has so far been regarded as China's model tennis player. In 2013, Shuai and her doubles partner Hsieh Su-Wei, from Taiwan, won the Grand Slam tournament at Wimbledon, and in 2014 the French Open in Paris.

We hope Peng Shuai is safe and we soon get to hear from the tennis star herself.

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