Peng Shuai Breaks Silence: ‘Never Said Someone Sexually Assaulted Me’

Chinese top tennis star Peng Shuai has denied ever accusing anyone of sexual abuse at a sporting event in Shanghai.

It is the first time that Peng says something publicly on camera about the abuse allegations made to former Deputy Prime Minister Zhang Gaoli. She posted a message about that on the Chinese social medium Weibo in early November. A few minutes later, the message was deleted.

โ€œI want to highlight something very important,โ€ she now says in a video shared by Lianhe Zaobao, a Chinese media platform in Singapore. โ€œI never said or wrote that someone sexually assaulted me.โ€ It is not clear if she says this voluntarily or if she has been pressured.

Censorship

After Peng‘s report on Zhang in early November, nothing was heard from her for weeks, which led to concerns, including with human rights organizations and the world tennis association WTA. Chinese state media did post images of Peng on Twitter, but it was not clear when those images were recorded.

Take a look at the images that have become available so far from Peng:

The International Olympic Committee held two video calls with Peng, but that did not alleviate the committee’s concerns about Peng‘s situation. In China, online and media discussions about the case have been censored.

Private case

Now Peng is speaking out on camera about the case for the first time. In the video, the tennis player says that โ€œpeople don’t understand a lot of thingsโ€ and that it‘s a private matter.

Peng also mentions the email she allegedly wrote last month to Steve Simon, who heads tennis association WTA. In it, she denied the allegations against Zhang Gaoli. Simon said about that email that Peng was โ€œclearly influenced by others.โ€

Because the WTA did not believe that Peng’s statements were put out by herself and without coercion, the union decided to take measures. For now, the union is no longer organizing tournaments in China and Hong Kong.

In view of the censorship surrounding the case and the limited information that has come out so far, it is also the question of how reliable these latest statements by Peng are.