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Peng interview with L’équipe changes nothing for WTA CEO Steve Simon

WTA CEO Steve Simon said in a statement that Peng Shuai’s recent interview with L’équipe does not alleviate any of the tour’s concerns.

Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai signs large-sized tennis balls at the opening ceremony of Fila Kids Junior Tennis Challenger Final in Beijing, China November 21, 2021 Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai signs large-sized tennis balls at the opening ceremony of Fila Kids Junior Tennis Challenger Final in Beijing, China November 21, 2021, in this screen grab obtained from a social media video. TWITTER @QINGQINGPARIS via || 213309_0004

One day after L’équipe released Peng Shuai’s first interview with the non-Chinese international media since she made allegations of sexual assault against former Chinese vice premier Zhang Gaoli on November 2nd, WTA CEO Steve Simon released a brief statement to confirm the tour’s position.

“It’s always good to see Peng Shuai, whether in an interview or attending the Olympic Games,” the emailed statement read: “However, her recent in-person interview does not alleviate any of our concerns about her initial post from November 2nd.”

Simon who announced the immediate suspension of all WTA Tour events in China, including Hong Kong, on December 1st, continues to call for a formal investigation into the matter of Peng’s alleged sexual assault, as well as an in-person private meeting with Peng.

“To reiterate our view, Peng took a bold step in publicly coming forth with the accusation that she was sexually assaulted by a senior Chinese government leader,” the statement read. “As we would do with any of our players globally, we have called for a formal investigation into the allegations by the appropriate authorities and an opportunity for the WTA to meet with Peng – privately – to discuss her situation.

“We continue to hold firm on our position and our thoughts remain with Peng Shuai.”

Peng to L’équipe: “I never said anyone had sexually assaulted me in any way”

During her hour-long interview with L’équipe, Peng did her best to back track on her original statements, and even claimed that she had deleted her own posts from Weibo.

When asked about the details of her post on Weibo, Peng said: “Sexual assault? I never said anyone had sexually assaulted me in any way.”

She then told L’équipe that she erased the Weibo post herself.

“I erased it – because I wanted to,” she said in the interview.

Peng, who was in Beijing to support the Chinese effort at the winter Olympics, stated that she wants the “huge misunderstanding” to fade into the distance

“There was a huge misunderstanding in the outside world following this post. I don’t want the meaning of this post to be twisted anymore. And I don’t want any further media hype around it,” she said.

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