Peng Shuai: Andy Murray becomes latest tennis star to voice concern over missing Chinese player

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Peng Shuai: Andy Murray becomes latest tennis star to voice concern over missing Chinese player
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Andy Murray has become the latest tennis star to voice concern over Chinese player Peng Shuai as fears over her whereabouts engulfed the sport.

The two-time Wimbledon champion joined an online campaign to help find the 35-year-old, who earlier this month accused a former high-ranking official of sexual assault.

The British sporting legend tweeted that her “whereabouts (are) currently unknown after making sexual abuse allegations against (a) Chinese government official”.

He also linked to a video of Czech French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova speaking about her country’s liberation from communism in 1989.

In emotional scenes during Tuesday’s WTA finals doubles winners’ presentation ceremony, she spoke of Martina Navratilova’s “forced” emigration from Czechoslovakia to the US — as the 18-time grand slam champion stood behind her wiping away tears.

Murray said of the footage: “This speech gives us a reminder and some hope that things can change in the future. #WhereIsPengShuai.”

Peng wrote in a lengthy social media post on November 2 that she had been forced to have sex three years ago with Zhang Gaoli, a former vice premier and member of the ruling Communist Party’s all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee.

The post was quickly deleted from her verified account on Weibo, a leading Chinese social media platform, but screenshots of the explosive accusation quickly spread across China’s internet.

Several of tennis’s top stars have called for an investigation into her whereabouts, including Serena Williams, who on Thursday tweeted she was “devastated” and “shocked” by the news of her fellow player.

“I hope she is safe and found as soon as possible. This must be investigated and we must not stay silent,” she said.

It escalated further on Friday when the head of the Women’s Tennis Association, Steve Simon, said the tour would consider pulling tournaments worth tens of millions of dollars out of China.

“This is bigger than the business. Women need to be respected and not censored,” he told CNN.

Earlier in the week, Mr Simon cast doubt on an email purporting to be from Peng and denying the allegations of sexual assault, saying he had “a hard time” believing it was actually from her.

China’s Foreign Ministry on Friday claimed it was unaware of the controversy. Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters the matter was “not a diplomatic question and I’m not aware of the situation”.

The ministry has consistently disavowed knowledge of the issue.

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