Daily US Times: American tennis great Serena Williams says the case of former Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai “must be investigated” and urged people “not to stay silent” about her welfare.
The 35-year-old Chinese tennis star has not been heard from since she made sexual assault allegations against a leading Chinese government official 2 weeks ago.
Chinese state media has published an email attributed to Peng, but doubt has been cast about its authenticity.
Serena Williams said: “I hope she is safe and found as soon as possible.”
Concern for Peng’s safety and whereabouts has continued to grow since she said she was “forced” into a sexual relationship with former China vice-premier Zhang Gaoli.
She made the allegations in a post on Chinese social media site Weibo on 3 November and soon deleted from China’s internet.
It is the first time such a claim has been made against one of the country’s senior political leaders.
The Chairman of the Women’s Tennis Association Steve Simon said Peng deserved “to be heard, not censored” on the allegations.
He cast doubt on the email released by Chinese state media, saying it “only raises” concerns about Peng’s safety.
Williams is one of many leading players, including men’s world number one Novak Djokovic and Japan’s four-time major winner Naomi Osaka., to speak out about Peng’s welfare.
Williams, who is a 23-time Grand Slam singles champion, said: “I am devastated and shocked to hear about the news. This must be investigated and we must not stay silent. Sending love to her and her family during this incredibly difficult time.”
Peng Shuai is a former world number one doubles player who has won two Grand Slam titles – at Wimbledon in 2013 and the 2014 French Open, both alongside Chinese Taipei’s Hsieh Su-wei.