A ‘devastated and shocked’ Serena Williams has called for a full investigation into the whereabouts and wellbeing of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai.
Concern has been growing surrounding Peng’s welfare over the last fortnight, with the 35-year-old not seen in public since accusing retired Chinese vice premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault.
Peng, a doubles specialist, made the allegations on Weibo back on November 3, but the post was swiftly and mysteriously removed from the Chinese social media website.
A supposed email was subsequently published which Chinese state media claimed was written by Peng, but there have been serious questions asked regarding it’s authenticity.
WTA CEO Steve Simon wasted little time in voicing his scepticism about the said email, saying Peng deserved to be ‘heard, not censored’, while Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka have been among those demanding answers.
On Thursday evening, 23-time Grand Slam champion Williams broke her silence on the matter as she joined the ‘#whereispengshuai’ campaign, sending a message of support to Peng’s friends and family during the ordeal.
‘I am devastated and shocked to hear about the news of my peer, Peng Shuai,’ the iconic American told her 10.6 million followers on Twitter.
‘I hope she is safe and found as soon as possible. This must be investigated and we must not stay silent.
‘Sending love to her and her family during this incredibly difficult time. #whereispengshuai.’
I am devastated and shocked to hear about the news of my peer, Peng Shuai. I hope she is safe and found as soon as possible. This must be investigated and we must not stay silent. Sending love to her and her family during this incredibly difficult time. #whereispengshuai pic.twitter.com/GZG3zLTSC6
Amnesty International weighed in on the episode earlier on Thursday, highlighting China’s history of ‘fabricating’ statements from ‘individuals under duress’.
‘Peng’s recent so-called statement that “everything is fine” should not be taken at face value,’ Amnesty’s Doriane Lau statement said.
‘China’s state media has a track record of forcing statements out of individuals under duress, or else simply fabricating them.
‘These concerns will not go away unless Peng’s safety and whereabouts are confirmed.’
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