Peng Shuai has spoken amid ongoing controversy of her well-being in China, saying she never accused anyone of sexually assaulting her and that her social media post from last month had been misunderstood.
The Chinese tennis player’s wellbeing became a concern around the world when she seemingly alleged that a former Chinese vice premier, Zhang Gaoli, had sexually assaulted her.
Following the post, she was absent from public view for almost three weeks.
Peng, a former Wimbledon and French Open doubles champion, made the accusation via Chinese social media site Weibo in early November to allege that Gaoli forced her to have sex during a patchy relationship across a number of years.
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Chinese officials quickly removed traces of the message on the Chinese web, but Twitter screenshots made global headlines.
She did an interview with foreign press on Sunday, which marked her first international media appearance since the controversy came to light last month.
Speaking with Lianhe Zaobao, a Chinese-language publication based in Singapore, Peng claimed her social media post was a “misunderstanding.”
“I wanted to make this very clear: I have never claimed, or written about anyone having sexually assaulted me,” Peng said.
“I have to clearly stress this point.
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“With regards to Weibo, it’s about my personal privacy . . . there’s been a lot of misunderstanding . . . there [should be] no distorted interpretation.”
Unverified footage of Peng was also released online by a Chinese journalist, where she was seen speaking with retired Chinese basketball star Yao Ming.
A friend sent me this video showing Chinese tennis star player Peng Shuai talked with Yao Ming, one of the most beloved players in @NBA history, this morning at an event “FIS Cross-Country Skiing China City Tour’ in Shanghai. pic.twitter.com/Ebduv5rean
— Qingqing_Chen (@qingqingparis) December 19, 2021
Earlier in December, the Women’s Tennis Association announced it would suspend tournaments in China immediately due to concerns over the treatment of Peng, as well as the safety of other players.
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