The WTA continued to express concern for Peng Shuai after the Chinese tennis star spoke publicly to deny she disappeared or was sexually assaulted.
Peng broke her silence in an interview with French publication L’Equipe, insisting she was never “missing” or sexually assaulted by anyone.
The 36-year-old initially alleged via social media in November that China’s former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli sexually assaulted her in 2017.
After the post was removed off social media within an hour, Peng was not seen in public for weeks, prompting the tennis community and fans to express concerns for her welfare, while the WTA canceled tournaments in China and some countries refused to send diplomats to the Beijing 2022 Olympics.
Despite her L’Equipe interview, WTA chairman and CEO Steve Simon revealed he still had concerns for Peng’s safety and welfare and insisted that her initial sexual assault allegations be investigated.
“It’s always good to see Peng Shuai, whether in an interview or attending the Olympic Games,” Simon said via a statement on the WTA website.
“However, her recent in-person interview does not alleviate any of our concerns about her initial post from November 2nd.
“To reiterate our view, Peng took a bold step in publicly coming forth with the accusation that she was sexually assaulted by a senior Chinese government leader.
“As we would do with any of our players globally, we have called for a formal investigation into the allegations by the appropriate authorities and an opportunity for the WTA to meet with Peng – privately – to discuss her situation.
“We continue to hold firm on our position and our thoughts remain with Peng Shuai.”