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Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai disappears, Zhang Gaoli assaulted her

The WTA has requested an investigation into allegations made by Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai against a party official of sexual assault.

After publicly accusing a former Communist Party official of sexual assault earlier this month, a Chinese tennis player has not been seen or heard from.

Peng Shuai, formerly the world's No. 14 player, stated Nov. 2 that Zhang Gaoli assaulted her three years ago in his home just after he retired from the party.

Zhang, aged 75, was one of the Chinese Communist Party's highest-ranking officials until his departure in 2018. After Peng shared her tale on Weibo, China's equivalent of Twitter, the post was quickly removed.

Peng, 35, has been missing since then. According to the Guardian, WTA CEO Steve Simon stated that the WTA has been informed by China's tennis association that Peng is safe in Beijing, but the WTA has not been able to confirm this.

Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai disappears, Zhang Gaoli assaulted her
During the 2020 Australian Open, Peng Shuai hits a shot.

Simon came out swinging in a statement, threatening to yank WTA events from China until there is a "complete, fair, and thorough" inquiry into Zhang's alleged assault.

"If, at the end of the day, we do not get the desired results from this, we would be prepared to withdraw our business from China," Simon told the New York Times.

There are 11 WTA events scheduled in China throughout a typical calendar year, and the WTA has made a concerted effort to market itself in the country.

Other sports organizations, such as the NBA, have made concessions in order to benefit from lucrative business ties with China. Simon stated that due to the gravity of Peng's charges, the WTA will not follow suit.

"In this case, the WTA is concerned with the possibility of sexual assault against one of our players," he told the Times. "That is something that cannot be compromised in any way."

Peng stated that she and Zhang had a consensual relationship for several years before he was promoted and relocated to Beijing, at which point they lost contact.

Zhang called her seven years later, she said, and invited her to play tennis with him and his wife. The group then returned to Zhang's house, where Peng claimed he coerced her into having intercourse with him.

"That day, I never consented, crying the entire time," she wrote. "Even if I am an egg hurling itself at a rock, or a moth flying toward a flame, seeking my own demise, I will convey the truth about us."


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