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The WTA has called for an immediate investigation into allegations of sexual assault by Chinese player Peng Shuai against the country’s former vice-premier.
Peng said in a post earlier this month on social media site Weibo, which was deleted half an hour later, that she had been “forced” into a sexual relationship with Zhang Gaoli.
There were concerns the player had not been seen since but the WTA said it had since received confirmation from several sources that “she is safe and not under any physical threat”.
But WTA chief executive Steve Simon called for an immediate investigation by the Chinese authorities.
“As an organisation dedicated to women, we remain committed to the principles we were founded on – equality, opportunity and respect,” he said.
“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.
“In all societies, the behaviour that she alleges took place needs to be investigated, not condoned or ignored.
“We commend Peng Shuai for her remarkable courage and strength in coming forward. Women around the world are finding their voices so injustices can be corrected.
“Our absolute and unwavering priority is the health and safety of our players. We are speaking out to justice can be done.”
Peng is a former world No1 doubles player, having won doubles Grand Slam titles at both Wimbledon and the French Open. She reached a career-high 14th in the world in singles and was a former US Open semi-finalist.