Peng Shuai Indian Wells 2017

Peng Shuai retracts sexual assault allegations in new interview

In a recent interview, Peng Shuai has denied she made any allegations of sexual assault and claims “there has been a lot of misunderstanding.”

In November, former French Open and Wimbledon doubles champion Peng Shuai alleged that former Chinese Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli coerced her into a sexual relationship.

Peng then publicly disappeared for nearly three weeks, which led to widespread global concern. Despite China’s multiple attempts to reassure the world, the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) took the decision to withdraw all tournaments from China due to their failure and refusal to cooperate.

In an interview with pro-Beijing Singaporean news outlet Lianhe Zaobao, Peng said “I wanted to make this very clear: I have never claimed, or written about anyone having sexually assaulted me.

“With regards to Weibo (Chinese social media website), it’s about my personal privacy … There’s been a lot of misunderstanding … There [should be] no distorted interpretation.

“First, I need to stress one point that is extremely important, I have never said or written that anyone has sexually assaulted me, I have to clearly stress this point.”

This is the first time Peng has remarked on her situation on camera in a public setting.

The interview has caused further concern after a few weeks of silence on the matter. Human Rights Watch China researcher Yaqiu Wang criticised the interview through Twitter when she said “wow, so natural, very real, everyone now believes it. Congratulations, the CCP!”

Following the interview, the WTA released a statement immediately after which read “it was again good to see Peng Shuai in a public setting and we certainly hope she is doing well.

“As we have consistently stated, these appearances do not alleviate or address the WTA’s significant concerns about her well-being and ability to communicate without censorship or coercion.”

“We remain steadfast in our call for a full, fair and transparent investigation, without censorship, into her allegation of sexual assault, which is the issue that gave rise to our initial concern.”

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Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.