‘Lost’ Chinese sports star appears for new interview – RT Sport News

Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai has repeated that the sexual assault allegations she made against a former government official were a ‘misunderstanding’

Tennis star Peng Shuai said in his first western interview in several months that the sexual assault allegations against a senior Chinese government official on the social media platform Weibo were nothing more than a “misunderstanding.”

Fears for Peng’s safety were sparked late last year when the allegations surfaced online but were quickly deleted, after which the 36-year-old was not seen in public for several weeks.

The situation has caused great concern, with several of the sport’s biggest stars demanding information about her whereabouts as the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) announced it would withdraw from hosting events in China indefinitely.

There were also several protests over the situation at last month’s Australian Open in Melbourne.

But speaking to French publication L’Equipe, Peng said the allegations were unfounded in an interview which critics said had been staged.

The newspaper said he was required to submit questions to Peng in advance during the Beijing Winter Olympics, while his answers were translated into English by a member of the Chinese Olympic Committee.

“I would like to know: why such concern? … I never said that someone had sexually assaulted me”, she said in the interview, distancing herself from the lengthy statement posted on her social media profile in November, in which she accused former Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault.

“This message has given rise to a huge misunderstanding from the outside world. I hope the meaning of this message will not be distorted any further. And I also hope that we will not add more hype to it,” she added.

Peng added that she was content to live a “normal life,” repeating a phrase that Chinese government officials had previously used about him.

She also said in the interview that she considers it likely that her professional career is over.

“Given my age, my multiple operations and the pandemic that forced me to quit for so long, I think it will be very difficult to regain my physical level”, Peng, who is a former two-time world number one and two-time Grand Slam champion, told the French outlet.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) also reported on Monday that Peng personally met with IOC President Thomas Bach on Saturday.

Bach was among the first to reach out to Peng following the allegations last year and held a high-profile video call with her in the weeks following concerns for her safety.

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