Serena Williams has joined the worldwide calls for the truth about Peng Shuai after the Chinese star's “shocking” disappearance in her homeland.
The former Wimbledon doubles champion has not been seen since revealing on social media that she had been forced into a sexual relationship with a senior Chinese politician.
And the WTA chairman Steve Simon said he had “a hard time believing” an email released by Chinese state media this week – which claimed to be from Peng Shuai and stating she was fit and well – was really written by the former singles world No.14.
Naomi Osaka, Judy Murray, Chris Evert and Stan Wawrinka and Chris Evert have offered support on social media with the hashtag #whereispengshuai.
And Williams tweeted: “I am devastated and shocked to hear about the news of my peer, Peng Shuai. I hope she is safe and found as soon as possible. This must be investigated and we must not stay silent. Sending love to her and her family during this incredibly difficult time.”
Novak Djokovic has called Shuai’s story “shocking”.
And Amazon Prime analyst Tim Henman added: “Hopefully there will be that swell of momentum that will get us the answer. Her safety is absolutely paramount.
“Fingers crossed this does have a happy ending because it has been very uncomfortable to read and listen about these circumstances.”
China staged big tournaments on the WTA Tour before the pandemic and will host the Winter Olympics in Beijing next year.
Labour MP Stephen Kinnock said: "I have submitted a written question to the Foreign Secretary, asking her what representations she has made to the Chinese government about this disturbing case.”
Beijing has yet to comment on Peng's initial allegation against former Chinese vice premier Zhang Gaoli and discussion of the topic has been blocked on China's heavily censored internet.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian yesterday said: “This is not a foreign affairs matter, and I am not aware of the situation you mentioned.”
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