Peng Shuai is a former No. 1 ranked Doubles player who teamed with Hsieh Su-wei to win Wimbledon in 2013 and Roland Garros the following year.
On 2 November 2021, Peng Shuai posted a 1,600 word statement on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.
She stated that she had been in a long on-off relationship with China’s former vice-premier Zhang Gaolihad and he had recently coerced her into sex.
The Weibo post was quickly deleted and she was not publicly seen nor heard from for weeks.
When she resurfaced to tell Singaporean media outlet Lianhe Zaobao that there had been a misunderstanding, the Western media was sceptical.
A fortnight later, WTA Chairman and CEO Steve Simon received an email from Peng. For several reasons, he had doubts about its origins. “I have a hard time believing that Peng Shuai actually wrote the email we received or believes what is being attributed to her.”
Soon after, Chinese State media released photographs and videos of Peng purportedly out socialising at various events.
Then, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that President Thomas Bach had spoken with her in a half -hour video conference and that she appeared to be “safe and well”.
On 2 December, the IOC claimed to have spoken with Peng again and believed that she was “doing fine”.
The WTA announced it was suspending its tournaments in China and Hong Kong.
Title photo of Peng Shuai by AP