Chinese Tennis Star Peng Shuai Blames Weibo Post for Sparking 'Misunderstanding'

© REUTERS / Kim Hong-Ji China's Peng Shuai in action during a first-round match against Japan's Nao Hibino at the Australian Open in Melbourne on January 21, 2020
 China's Peng Shuai in action during a first-round match against Japan's Nao Hibino at the Australian Open in Melbourne on January 21, 2020 - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.02.2022
The 36-year-old Peng Shuai stoked major controversy last November after writing over 1,600-word notes on the social media platform Weibo, claiming a sexual relationship with former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli. The post was later deleted from Weibo but not before it quickly went viral.
Three-time Olympian Peng Shuai has once again denied making sexual assault allegations against a Chinese Communist Party official in her first interview with the western media since November when her Weibo post became a global concern.
Peng told the French newspaper L'Equipe that she never accused anyone of sexual abuse, and she deleted the post as people distorted the meaning of it.

"This post has given rise to a huge misunderstanding from the outside world. I hope that we no longer distort the meaning of this post. And I also hope that we don't add more hype on this", Peng told the French sports daily.

The Asian gold medalist also wondered why there was persistent follow-up by the Women's Tennis Association and other organisations about her whereabouts and well-being.
"I didn't think there would be such concern and I would like to know: why such concern?", Peng said.
In November, it was widely reported that the Wimbledon and French Open doubles champion had accused ex-Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of forcing her to have sex with him.
"I never said anyone sexually assaulted me", she said on Monday.
Soon after the post, the WTA and the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) pressured China to come clean on the charges and even raised concerns about her well-being as Peng disappeared for a month after the post.

"I never disappeared. It's just that a lot of people, like my friends, including from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), messaged me, and it was quite impossible to reply to so many messages", the Chinese tennis star said.

Thomas Bach, president of the IOC, and other officials also held a face-to-face meeting with the tennis star in Beijing on 6 February.
"The meeting followed a series of telephone conversations with Peng Shuai over the past few months, which started on 21 November", a statement issued by the IOC on Monday read.
The 36-year-old player expressed her inability to return to professional events, citing her age and injuries over the years.
On 2 November, a post appeared on Peng's verified account on Weibo, in which she revealed her years-long affair with Zhang Gaoli, the former vice premier of the Chinese Communist Party.
"I have no evidence, and it is impossible to leave evidence at all. ... You are always afraid of what recorder I bring, leaving evidence or something...But even if I become like an egg hitting against a rock and like moths extinguished in the flame, I will tell the truth about you", the translation of her Weibo post, later deleted by the tennis star, read.
As she disappeared from public life, a #WhereIsPengShuai campaign was launched and supported by other tennis stars, including Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams, and Novak Djokovic.
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