FILE PHOTO: Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Australia – 15/1/14
Women’s Singles – Australia’s Sam Stosur in action in the second round
Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Jason O’Brien
December 1, 2021
(Reuters) – Former U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur said she hoped China’s Peng Shuai was safe and well and that the tour and players were waiting to see how the “terrible story” unfolds.
The whereabouts of Peng, a former doubles world number one, became a matter of international concern for nearly three weeks after she posted a message on social media alleging that China’s former Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli had sexually assaulted her.
Current and former tennis players, including Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams and Billie Jean King, joined the calls seeking to confirm she was safe.
World number one Novak Djokovic said it would be strange to hold tournaments in China unless the “horrific” situation was resolved.
“It’s a terrible story, what is unfolding with Peng Shuai,” Stosur told Australian media. “We played many, many times on Tour. All the players know who she was as she has won Grand Slams and been number one in the world in doubles.
“From the players’ point of view and the Tour, we just want her to be safe and hopefully everything is OK, but things are unfolding and we just have to wait and see how that plays out.”
Last month, Peng had a video call with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach but the Women’s Tennis Association said https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/tennis-wta-says-chinese-tennis-stars-call-with-olympic-chief-is-not-enough-2021-11-22 it did not address or alleviate concerns about her health and safety.
Senior IOC member Dick Pound denied https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/pound-fires-back-critics-iocs-video-call-with-peng-shuai-2021-11-30 the organisation vouched for Peng’s safety to avoid angering 2022 Olympics host Beijing.
(Reporting by Hritika Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)