WTA CEO calls for investigation into allegations of China assault

WTA CEO calls for investigation into allegations of China assault

St. Petersburg, Florida. The head of the Women’s WTA Tour has called for a full investigation into allegations of sexual assault made by a two-time double Grand Slam champion from China against a former senior government official in that country.

Earlier this month, former No. 1 doubles player Peng Shuai wrote in a lengthy social media post that Zhang Qaoli, a former deputy prime minister and a member of the Standing Committee of the ruling Communist Party Politburo, forced her to do so. They have sex despite repeated rejections after a round of tennis three years ago.

Her posts — which were removed from her verified account on Wiebo, a leading Chinese social media platform — said she had sex once seven years ago and had feelings for him afterwards.

“Peng Shuai, and all women, deserve to be heard, not to be censored. Her accusation of sexually assaulting behavior by a former Chinese leader should be treated with the utmost seriousness. In all societies, the behavior she claims should be investigated, not condoned or ignored. We commend Peng Shuai for her remarkable courage and strength in moving forward.Women around the world are finding their voices so that injustice can be corrected, said Steve Simon, WTA Chairman and CEO, in a statement released by the Tour on Sunday.

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“We expect this case to be handled properly, which means that the allegations must be investigated fully, fairly, transparently and without oversight,” Simon said.

Peng has won 23 doubles titles, including Wimbledon in 2013 and the French Open in 2014. She reached the singles semi-finals at the 2014 US Open.

Her accusation was the first against a senior government official since the #MeToo movement took root in China in 2018, before the authorities largely quelled it that same year.

In the post, Peng, 35, wrote that Zhang, 75, and his wife arranged to play tennis in Beijing about three years ago and that he later brought her to a room in his home where the assault occurred.

“I was so scared that afternoon, I never thought this thing could happen,” the post said.

Zhang retired in 2018 and has largely disappeared from public life, as is usual with former Chinese officials.

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