Tennis star Naomi Osaka says she was shocked to hear about a Chinese player who has not spoken publicly since she accused a former senior Chinese government official of sexual assault.
The former Japanese No. 1 winner and four-time grand winner posted on social media on Wednesday to join those wondering: where is Peng Shuai?
Osaka wrote on her social media account: “I don’t know if you’ve been following the news, but I was recently informed of a companion tennis player who disappeared shortly after developer that she was sexually abused. Censorship never agree at any cost. “
Osaka, 24, said she hopes Peng and her family “are doing well and safe.” Peng wrote in a social media post on November 4 that a former deputy prime minister had forced her to have sex even though she repeatedly told him no. The post was deleted from his account on Chinese social media company Weibo. The fully state-controlled Chinese media has blocked all reporting on the case.
Peng won 23 double championships, notably at Wimbledon in 2013 and Roland Garros in 2014. She was semi-finalist in singles at the US Open in 2014. Peng last played at the highest level at the Qatar Open in February 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic was curtailed. to travel.
Peng also competed in three Olympics – 2008, 2012 and 2016. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) was silent on his statement. The IOC and China are hosting the Beijing Winter Olympics which will start on February 4.
Peng, 35, wrote that Zhang Gaoli, a former deputy prime minister and member of the all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee of the ruling Communist Party, forced her to have sex after playing tennis three years ago. years. She said that Zhang’s wife was guarding the door during the incident. Her post also stated that they had had sex once seven years ago and that she had feelings for him after that. Zhang, now 75, was Deputy Prime Minister between 2013 and 2018 and served on the Politburo Standing Committee between 2012 and 2017.
Other players comment
Other prominent players, including Novak Djokovic, have expressed shock at the situation. The organizers of the women’s and men’s professional tennis competitions have called for a full investigation.
More than a week after Peng’s message, Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) President Steve Simon released a statement saying “Peng Shuai, and all women, deserve to be heard, not censored.” He added that his charge of sexual assault should be taken seriously.
Organizers of the men’s competition followed on Monday, with Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) president Andrea Gaudenzi saying tennis officials were “deeply concerned about the uncertainty surrounding immediate safety and the fate of the WTA player Peng Shuai “. He added: “Separately, we fully support the WTA’s appeal” for an investigation.
Peng’s indictment was the first against a senior government official since the #MeToo movement took hold in China in 2018. Since then, the government has dropped sexual assault charges against officials.
Chinese Tennis Association says “she’s safe”
WTA chief Simon said The New York Times Sunday that no one within the organization spoke directly to Peng. He said the Chinese Tennis Association told him she was safe “and not under any physical threat.”
The Chinese State Council Information Office and the Chinese Tennis Association did not immediately respond to requests for comment after the WTA’s statement was released.
I am Jill Robbins.
Amy Tenner and Steve Keating reported this story to Reuters; AP staff reported for AP. Jill Robbins adapted it for Learn English. Susan Shand was the editor.
Words in this story
sexual assault – not. the crime of touching someone in an unwanted sexual way
companion – adj. – used to describe people who belong to the same group or class or who share a situation, experience or similar
reveal – v. to let know (something)
censor – v. to examine books, films, letters, etc., to remove things considered offensive, immoral, harmful to society, etc.
double – m. a game of tennis played by two players on each side
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