Concerns mount over Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai
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Rafael Nadal has become the latest top player to speak out on the disappearance of Peng Shuai. His comments came after Wimbledon issued a statement on the missing Chinese tennis player and their 2013 doubles champion, saying they were working with the WTA to establish her whereabouts. Peng has not been directly heard from since November 2, when she accused China’s former vice premier of sexual assault.
Peng Shuai has not been accounted for since accusing Zhang Gaoli, the former vice premier of China, of sexual abuse in a lengthy Weibo post on November 2.
The former doubles No 1 also detailed an on-and-off consensual affair with the now-retired politician who is 40 years her senior, dating back to 2011.
Zhang – who served on China’s top ruling council, the Politburo Standing Committee, between 2012 and 2017 – has not responded to the claims, while a spokesperson for Beijing’s foreign ministry denied all knowledge of the allegations when asked about the subject, saying: “I have not heard of it and it is not a diplomatic question.”
Tennis players, government officials and leaders of the sport’s governing bodies including the WTA, ATP and ITF have all spoken out in recent days, raising concerns for her safety and whereabouts, and calling for a full investigation into her allegations.
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Former ATP world No 1 and 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal has now spoken out on the matter.
“I follow the news and read the articles about Peng Shuai,” the Spaniard told L’Equipe on Saturday (November 20).
“Even though I don’t have all the information, the most important thing in this case is whether she is okay. All of us in the tennis family hope to see her soon with us.”
His comments come as Wimbledon joined the calls to confirm the safety of the two-time doubles Major champion.
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Also on Saturday, the All England Lawn Tennis Club said: “We are united with the rest of tennis in the need to understand that Peng Shuai is safe.
“We have been working in support of the WTA’s effort to establish her safety through our relationships behind the scenes.
“Along with the global tennis community, we would like Peng Shuai to know that her wellbeing is of the utmost importance to us, and we will continue to work to gain clarity on her safety.”
The WTA’s CEO and Chairman previously said that no one had been able to directly contact Peng through multiple channels, following her allegations against Zhang.
Speaking to CNN on Friday (November 19), Steve Simon confirmed that nobody had been able to get in touch with the former singles world No 14.
“We have reached out to her on every phone number and email address and other forms of contact,” he said.
“There’s so many digital approaches to contact people these days that we have, and to date we still have not been able to get a response.”
The boss of the women’s tour has also doubled-down on his strong stance in recent days, threatening to remove all tournaments from China if her safety and whereabouts are not confirmed, and if they do not conduct a full and fair investigation into Peng’s allegations.
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