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WTA chairman Simon refutes validity of bizarre Peng “email”, says it “raises my concerns as to her safety”

The Chinese player has not been seen since she made allegations of sexual abuse against a high-ranking government official two weeks ago

Peng Shuai WUHAN, Sept. 23, 2019 Peng Shuai of China reacts during the women’s singles first round match between Garbine Muguruza of Spain and Peng Shuai of China at the 2019 WTA Wuhan Open tennis tournament in Wuhan of central China’s Hubei Province, Sept. 23, 2019

Steve Simon, the WTA chairman and CEO, said on Wednesday he seriously doubts the validity of an email he received, purporting to be from Peng Shuai, the Chinese player who has not been heard from for two weeks after she reportedly made allegations of sexual abuse against a high-ranking Chinese official.

Accusations from the 35-year-old Peng appeared on Chinese social media website Weibo on November 2 but were swiftly removed and Peng has not made any official statement, while the WTA has not been able to verify that she is safe.

Chinese State media put out a statement on Twitter on Wednesday, attaching an email it said was from Peng to Steve Simon, in which she said the allegations were untrue, that she was just “resting at home” and that any future statement from the WTA should be run past her first.

But in a statement of his own later Wednesday, Simon said: “The statement released today by Chinese state media concerning Peng Shuai only raises my concerns as to her safety and whereabouts. “I have a hard time believing that Peng Shuai actually wrote the email we received or believes what is being attributed to her. The WTA and the rest of the world need independent and verifiable proof that she is safe. I have repeatedly tried to reach her via numerous forms of communication, to no avail.”

Several players, including Naomi Osaka, have expressed their concern for Peng – and praised her bravery and right to speak out.

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