World No 1 Novak Djokovic said he is “shocked” Peng Shuai has not been seen, saying: “It’s not much more to say than hope that she will be found, that she’s OK. It’s just terrible. I can imagine just how her family feels that she’s missing”
Last Updated: 16/11/21 9:58am
Novak Djokovic described it as “shocking” that Peng Shuai has not been seen since posting allegations on social media of sexual assault against a former senior Chinese official.
Peng, a former No 1-ranked doubles player and one of China’s biggest sporting stars, alleged on her Weibo social media account earlier this month that Zhang Gaoli, who used to be a member of the Politburo Standing Committee – China’s top decision-making body – coerced her into sex and that they later had an on-off consensual relationship.
Peng, 35, said in the post, which was deleted about half an hour after it was published, that she could provide no evidence to back her allegations.
Concerns among the global tennis community have grown as Peng has not been seen since the post.
Djokovic said: “I don’t have much information about it. I did hear about it a week ago. Honestly, it’s shocking that she’s missing, more so that it’s someone that I have seen on the tour in the previous years quite a few times.
“It’s not much more to say than hope that she will be found, that she’s OK. It’s just terrible. I can imagine just how her family feels that she’s missing.”
Stacey Allaster, the former CEO of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), said the tennis world has put Peng’s health and safety ahead of business.
“Our sport is focusing on the health and safety of Peng Shuai, business is secondary,” said Allaster, who is Chief Executive, Professional Tennis, with the United States Tennis Association (USTA).
“It is tough and it also is tough for this very courageous young woman that has broken her silence and come forward with these allegations.”
In a statement on Sunday, WTA chairman and CEO Steve Simon said that the recent events were of deep concern.
“Peng Shuai, and all women, deserve to be heard, not censored. Her accusation about the conduct of a former Chinese leader involving a sexual assault must be treated with the utmost seriousness,” he said.
On Monday, the governing body of men’s tennis (ATP) backed the WTA’s call for China to investigate the allegations.