The Greek tennis star is the latest to call for clarification amid doubts over the veracity of an email purportedly sent by a Chinese player.
Maria Sakkari has joined a chorus of concern over the wellbeing and whereabouts of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai amid doubts over the authenticity of an email supposedly written by her retracting allegations of sexual assault against a senior politician.
The World No.6 joined other sports stars by tweeting under the hashtag #WhereIsPengShuai.
— Maria Sakkari (@mariasakkari) November 18, 2021
Peng, 35, is one of China’s most prosperous tennis players. She is a former doubles world number one, winning the French Open and Wimbledon. As a singles player, she rose to a career-high of 14 and has defeated top players.
Following earlier interventions from the Women’s Tennis Association, and the Association of Tennis Professionals, which governs men’s tennis, the ITF released a statement on Thursday stating their commitment to player safety and their support for an investigation.
“Player safety is always our top priority and we support a full and transparent investigation into this matter. While we have not spoken to the player, we are in touch with the national tennis association in China (CTA) in the event they may be able to provide any further information or updates,” the ITF said.
The latest calls for an account of Peng’s wellbeing came a day after China’s state broadcaster, CGTN released an email correspondence that was supposedly written by the player herself on Wednesday evening.
The post also kindled concerns over Peng’s safety and her whereabouts.“Like an egg hitting a rock, or a moth to the flame, courting self-destruction, I’ll tell the truth about you,” the post in Peng’s Weibo account said.
The post was quickly removed by Chinese censors, but it generated wide-ranging discussions over power and sexual harassment and concerns about Peng’s wellbeing both inside and outside China.
But Wednesday’s purported email from Peng, published by the state broadcaster, said:
“Regarding the recent news released on the official website of the WTA, the content has not been confirmed or verified by myself and it was released without my consent. The news in that release, including the allegation of sexual assault, is not true. I’m not missing, nor I am unsafe. I’ve just been resting at home and everything is fine. Thank you again for caring about me.”
Many more former and current tennis players have joined in including Novak Djokovic, Naomi Osaka, Chris Evert, Amelie Mauresmo, Kim Clijsters, Gilles Simon, Benoit Paire, Shelby Rogers, Donna Vekic, Fabio Fognini, Daniel Vallverdú, Patrick McEnroe plus Serene Williams have all joined in to find out the well being of Peng Shuai.