WTA boss casts doubt on Peng’s video

A video claiming to show Chinese player Peng Shuai with friends is “insufficient” evidence of her safety, says the director of the Women’s Tennis Association, Steve Simon.

On Saturday, Chinese state-affiliated media outlets posted two clips on Twitter of Peng allegedly having dinner with her coach and friends at a restaurant.

“While it is positive to see her, it is unclear whether she is free and capable of making decisions and acting on her own, without coercion or outside interference,” Simon said.

Peng, 35, has not been in direct contact with the WTA since she made sexual assault allegations against a former Chinese vice premier two weeks ago.

The China Tennis Association has told the governing body of the women’s pro tour that Peng is safe, and in Beijing, though Simon said on Friday there has been no confirmation whether that’s true.

On Saturday, the editor of the Global Times, which is a media organization affiliated with the Chinese state, released the clips of Peng that it said were filmed this weekend.

“The content of the video clearly shows that they were filmed on Saturday Beijing time,” Hu Xijin said.

However, the authenticity of the videos he was questioned by BBC China media analyst Kerry Allen.External link

He said it appeared that a date had been removed from the video.

“I am glad to see the videos published by China’s state media that appear to show Peng Shuai in a restaurant in Beijing,” added Simon.

“This video alone is insufficient.

“As I said from the beginning, I remain concerned for Peng Shuai’s health and safety and that the sexual assault charge is being censored and hidden under the rug.

“I have been clear about what needs to happen and our relationship with China is at a crossroads.”

Peng is a former world number one doubles player who won two Grand Slam titles – at Wimbledon in 2013 and at the 2014 French Open, both alongside Hsieh Su-wei of Chinese Taipei.

He also achieved a career-high singles ranking of 14 in 2011 and reached the semifinals of the US Open in 2014.

Fears for Peng’s safety have continued to grow since she said on November 3 that she was “forced” into a sexual relationship with China’s former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli.

Peng made the allegations in a post on Chinese social media site Weibo and they were soon removed from China’s internet.

It is the first time that such a claim has been made against one of China’s top political leaders.

Swiss star Roger Federer has added his voice to concerns about Peng’s well-being, joining Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic and many other top players to discuss the situation.

“I hope she is safe, the tennis world is united by her,” said Federer, a 20-time Grand Slam champion.

“I hope good news comes from her soon.”

People from across the tennis world, including past and present players, coaches and journalists, have been demanding answers about Peng’s whereabouts, as have other high-profile sports stars, actors and politicians.

Many have been using #WhereIsPengShuai in Twitter posts, along with a photo of her.

Wimbledon said it had been “working in support of the WTA’s efforts” to establish its safety and was “united with the rest of tennis in the need to understand that Peng Shuai is safe.”



Reference-www.bbc.co.uk

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