Peng Shuai has made her first media appearance since accusing a high-ranking Chinese politician of sexual assault, but this time she’s denying that the assault had ever taken place.
In a video message shared by the Lianhe Zaobao Chinese-language newspaper, Peng talks to the media for the first time after weeks of the entire tennis community, and the world, being worried about her well-being.
“First of all, I want to emphasize something that is very important. I have never said that I wrote that anyone sexually assaulted me. I need to emphasize this point very clearly,” the 35-year-old Peng explained in the video taken Sunday in Shanghai.
In early November, Peng accused former Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault, by posting a statement on her official Weibo account. The post was quickly deleted from the social network and since then the former WTA doubles world No.1 seemed to have disappeared.
Weeks went by and the WTA didn’t get a convincing proof of Peng’s well-being. In the beginning of December, WTA Chairman and CEO Steve Simon informed us that he had finally found Peng, but continued to have serious doubts that she was free, safe and not subject to censorship, coercion and intimidation. Therefore, the WTA made a bold decision to cancel all tournaments in China.
Now that we’ve heard from Peng in the media, the WTA remains reserved: “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.” The WTA is not convinced that Peng has the ability to communicate without censorship or coercion.
Why is Peng giving this interview only now? If she genuinely wanted to take back what she said, I guess she would have done it right away. What do you think?