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Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai has said she never accused anyone of sexually assaulting her and has claimed a post she made last month had been misunderstood.
Peng hit headlines over fears for her welfare after she appeared to make an allegation of sexual assault against former Chinese vice premier Zhang Gaoli.
Concerns grew in the tennis community after she shared the post on Weibo and became absent from public view for almost three weeks.
In response, the Women’s Tennis Association this month announced it would be suspending all tournaments in China due to concerns over Peng’s safety .
However, she’s now broken her silence and has said she didn’t accuse of anyone of sexual assault.
In a video shared by Singapore news outlet Lianhe Zaobao, Peng said: "First, I need to stress one point that is extremely important, I have never said or written that anyone has sexually assaulted me, I have to clearly stress this point.”
This is the first time Peng has spoken on camera about the matter.
She also claimed the post, which has since been removed, was a ‘private matter’.
The Women’s Tennis Association has welcomed the video, but is still calling for an investigation.
A spokesperson said: "It was again good to see Peng Shuai in a public setting and we certainly hope she is doing well.
"As we have consistently stated, these appearances do not alleviate or address the WTA’s significant concerns about her well-being and ability to communicate without censorship or coercion.
"We remain steadfast in our call for a full, fair and transparent investigation, without censorship, into her allegation of sexual assault, which is the issue that gave rise to our initial concern."
Earlier this month, WTA Chairman and CEO Steve Simon said in a statement: "Unfortunately, the leadership in China has not addressed this very serious issue in any credible way.
"While we now know where Peng is, I have serious doubts that she is free, safe, and not subject to censorship, coercion, and intimidation.
"In good conscience, I don't see how I can ask our athletes to compete there when Peng Shuai is not allowed to communicate freely and has seemingly been pressured to contradict her allegation of sexual assault.
"Given the current state of affairs, I am also greatly concerned about the risks that all of our players and staff could face if we were to hold events in China in 2022."
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