Pen Shuai where it is: the WTA Tour returns to China, the mystery of the tennis star after the attack

It’s a question that has been asked countless times over the past 12 months and is making headlines again as the world marks a dark milestone in the chapter.

Exactly 365 days since the tennis star’s first social media post accusing retired Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexually assaulting her, her whereabouts and well-being remain a mystery.

Now the WTA Tour has launched the idea of ​​returning to hosting tournaments in China. The WTA Tour has expressed concern for Peng’s safety and has proceeded to suspend all scheduled events in the country.

Shuai hasn’t been seen publicly since February, when she was paraded at the Beijing Winter Olympics.

The 36-year-old conducted a rare interview and photo opportunity at the Games, where she tried to downplay her previous sexual assault claim as a “huge misunderstanding.”

The photos show the Chief of Staff of the Chinese Olympic Committee Wang Kan sitting next to Shuai during the interview published by the French newspaper L’Equipe. It was speculated that the presence of Chinese officials showed that the interview was not genuine and that the media was used for Chinese “propaganda”.

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In truth, only a handful of Westerners really know where it is – and those who do refuse to say it publicly.

The IOC was the first sports organization to come into contact with Peng before this year’s Winter Olympics.

The IOC said he “has been in regular contact with Peng” since those controversial games, The sunrelationships.

But outside of a small group of Olympics officials, their exact location remains a mystery.

They added: “A visit to Europe continues to be discussed, as agreed in Beijing. The timing of the planned visit will depend on the Covid situation in China “.

Elsewhere, ITF President David Haggerty surprised everyone in August by revealing that he speaks to Peng via email and wants to meet her “face to face”.

The ITF says it has been “reassured by Peng Shuai that he is fine” and will continue to “seek assurances of his continued safety” – yet, when pressed for more information, the tennis bosses stubbornly refuse to give details about the its location.

Clearly the top management of tennis are not talking to each other because it is clear that the WTA – the governing body of women’s tennis – has had no significant contact with Peng since this episode began a year ago.

The WTA has decided to stop hosting future events in China and this uncompromising stance has been universally applauded.

Yet president and CEO Steve Simon has opened the doors to return there once Covid restrictions are loosened. Shenzhen, China was supposed to hold the WTA Finals until the end of 2030 before the pandemic changed those plans.

“Hopefully that’s where we will be,” he told The Associated Press.

“But, of course, we have some problems to solve.

“We have to solve Peng. We are sure that he is safe and we know that he is in Beijing which is great. We want it. But we haven’t received the assurances we want regarding the investigation we requested.

“What’s the real story? This is all we asked for. What’s the story? She obviously had a lot of courage to come forward with what she said. The principles involved are in line with what we stand for as an organization. And what we have asked for is an investigation to understand what happened, what did not happen and then deal with it appropriately. “

The WTA has been slammed by tennis commentators for even considering returning to China.

“A year ago, today Peng Shuai took to social media with an account of sexual assault. The WTA has called for “a full and fair investigation”. It never happened, ”American tennis commentator Jon Wertheim wrote on Twitter.

“The player’s health / safety remains a cause for concern. And now the WTA will return to China in 2023. What a moral failure ”.

Former player Patrick McEnroe wrote: “A year ago, Peng Shuai posted today that she was sexually assaulted.

“It was last seen publicly in February of this year.”

As always, money always seems to speak in global sport and Wimbledon, it should be noted, has no qualms about working with a Chinese telecom sponsor despite Peng being on their doubles draw.

Where is Peng Shuai? The sad truth is we don’t know. “

– with Rob Maul, The sun

Originally published as ‘Moral Failure’: The mystery of Chinese player Peng Shuai puts tennis to shame