Naomi Osaka ‘shocked’ by case of ‘missing’ Wimbledon champion Peng Shuai
Naomi Osaka is the latest high-profile tennis player to speak out in the wake of the disappearance of former Wimbledon and French Open doubles champion Peng Shuai.
Peng has not been seen since she made an allegation of sexual assault against a retired Chinese politician on social networking site Weibo earlier this month.
The post, in which she accused the country’s former vice premier Zhang Gaoli of sexually assaulting her,.was quickly taken down, and subsequent posts and reactions – including keywords such as “tennis” – were blocked, while numerous references to Peng were also removed from the Chinese internet.
Former world No.1 Osaka wrote in a statement: "Hey everyone, not sure if you've been following the news but I was recently informed of a fellow tennis player that has gone missing shortly after revealing that she has been sexually abused. Censorship is never ok at any cost, I hope Peng Shuai and her family are safe and ok. I'm in shock of the current situation and I'm sending love and light her way. #whereispenghsuai".
In the November 2 post, Peng, 35, claimed she had an on-off extra-martial affair with Zhang, 75, for several years before Zhang cut ties with her as he rose through the ranks in China's communist party.
Several years later, Peng claims, Zhang invited her to his and his wife's house to play tennis, which is when Peng alleges she was sexually assaulted by Zhang.
“I never consented that afternoon, crying all the time,” she wrote.
Neither Zhang nor the Chinese government has responded to the allegation.
The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) has been given assurances that Peng is safe, but has been unable to contact her directly. The WTA has also called for an investigation into Peng's claims.
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