skynews– Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai has denied she ever accused anyone of sexually assaulting her and said the social media post she made in November was a “misunderstanding”.
The 35-year-old made sexual assault allegations against former Chinese vice premier Zhang Gaoli on Chinese social media app Weibo in mid-November, but her post was deleted less than 30 minutes later.
In her first public interview with foreign press, the former Wimbledon doubles champion insisted her post, which had been quickly removed, was a “private matter”.
“First, I need to stress one point that is extremely important, I have never said or written that anyone has sexually assaulted me,” she said in a video posted by Lianhe Zaobao, a Singaporean-Chinese media outlet.
“This needs to be emphasised very clearly.
“First, this is an issue with my personal privacy. There probably have already been a lot of misunderstandings (but) any distorted interpretation (of the Weibo post) is groundless.”
The former Wimbledon doubles champion became a subject of global concern after she was not heard from for more than a week following the allegations.
Earlier this month, the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) said it would suspend all tournaments in China over safety concerns for Peng.
WTA Chairman and CEO Steve Simon said he “regrets it had come to this point” but Peng’s allegations had to be “taken seriously”, adding the women on the tour as well as those around the world “deserve nothing less”.
In the video, Peng confirmed the email she wrote to Mr Simon last month, alleging “everything is fine” and her sexual assault allegations were “not true”, was written by her.
“The Chinese letter I replied to WTA CEO Mr Simon was written entirely by myself,” she told reporters.
“So the Chinese (email) was written entirely by myself but the English email on CGTN’s Twitter is a translated version.”
She added: “The (translation) and the (original) email I wrote to Mr Simon have almost no information difference.”
Mr Simon at the time said he had a “hard time believing” the email attributed to Peng is from her, raising further concerns about the safety of the former Wimbledon champion.