Doubts raised over "everything is fine" email from missing tennis ace Peng Shuai

The head of the Women's Tennis Association has raised concerns about an alleged email sent from Peng Shuai, a Chinese tennis player who is said to be missing.

Shuai, 35, has not been seen in public since making allegations of sexual misconduct against a former Government official in China.

Her post claimed Zhang Gaoli, a former vice premier and member of the ruling Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee, had forced her to have sex despite repeated refusals following a round of tennis three years ago.

Since then an email has emerged, allegedly sent from Shuai, claiming everything is fine and that the WTA published false claims without her knowledge or consent.

“Regarding the recent news released on the official website of the WTA, the content has not been confirmed or verified by myself,” the email, said to be from Shuai, claimed.

“The news in that release, including the allegation of sexual assault, is not true. I’m not missing, nor am I unsafe. I’ve just been resting at home and everything is fine.”

Steve Simon, the head of the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) said it "only raises my concerns as to her safety and whereabouts".

"I have a hard time believing that Peng Shuai actually wrote the email we received or believes what is being attributed to her," he said in a statement.

"Peng Shuai displayed incredible courage in describing an allegation of sexual assault against a former top official in the Chinese government.

"The WTA and the rest of the world need independent and verifiable proof that she is safe. I have repeatedly tried to reach her via numerous forms of communication, to no avail."

The original post was reportedly deleted by moderators on the Weibo social network within 20 minutes of being published.

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In the original Weibo post from earlier this month, Peng, 35, claimed she had an on-off extra-martial affair with Zhang, 75, for several years before Zhang cut ties with her as he rose through the ranks in China's communist party.

Several years later, Peng claims, Zhang invited her to his and his wife's house to play tennis, which is when Peng alleges she was sexually assaulted by Zhang.

Zhang Gaoli has not responded to her claims.

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