Chinese tennis star again denies accusing government official of sexual assault on social media

Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai again denies accusing a former Communist Party official of sexually assaulting her in a social media post late last year.

L’Equipe, a French sports daily, published an interview he did with Peng in its Monday edition.

“I never said anyone sexually assaulted me in any way,” Peng is quoted in the interview after being asked directly if she actually wrote the post on her account on the Weibo social media platform in China.

In the Nov. 2 post, Peng, a former Olympian who won titles at Wimbledon and French Open, said former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli forced her to have sex before it happened. turns into an intermittent consensual relationship. Her post was quickly deleted and she disappeared from public view for several days. She eventually appeared at a tennis event and had a video chat with Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, during which she said she was safe.

Her public absence has raised concern from some of the world’s top female tennis players, including Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams, Billie Jean King and Novak Djokovic, and the Women’s Tennis Association has suspended all of its sponsored tournaments in mainland China and Hong Kong. .

Peng told L’Equipe that the initial post had caused a huge “misunderstanding” and that she no longer wanted it to attract attention, and insisted that she deleted it herself.” because I wanted to”. She also explained that her “disappearance” was simply due to her inability to reply to “so many messages”. Peng said his personal life since the controversy surfaced has been uneventful and stressed that his private life and personal issues should not be mixed with sports and politics.

Peng also told the newspaper that she is retiring from tennis.

She also said she had dinner with IOC President Bach on Saturday, which the IOC confirmed in a separate statement on Monday.

Bach told Reuters news agency when asked about Peng’s interview that all communication “depends on her, it’s her life, it’s her story.”

The newspaper said it submitted the questions to Peng in advance and conducted the interview in Chinese. Wang Kang, chief of staff of the Chinese Olympic Committee, accompanied Peng during the interview and translated his answers for the reporter.

WTA President and CEO Steve Simon has called for an open investigation into Peng’s initial accusations after Chinese state media released a statement that he was an e-mail. email Peng had sent to Simon in which she denied the allegations and insisted that she was not missing or dangerous. , but simply “resting at home”.

Peng issued a similar denial in December during a virtual interview that was posted on the website of Singapore-based Chinese-language newspaper Lianhe Zaobao.

Some information for this report comes from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

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