‘I never said somebody sexually assaulted me,’ says Peng Shuai, a Chinese tennis player who claims her social media post was a ‘enormous misunderstanding.’

Peng Shuai, a Chinese tennis player, has refuted her own claims of sexual assault, and rumors that she vanished from public view in an interview with international media have raised further fears about her safety.

Last year, Peng, 36, alleged in a social media post that she had been coerced into sex by Zhang Gaoli, China’s former vice-premier, prompting a Beijing censorship campaign and her disappearance from public view for weeks.

Peng told French magazine L’Equipe in her first interview outside of Chinese state media on Sunday that she ‘never said’ she had been sexually assaulted and that she ‘never vanished.’

During the interview, Peng was accompanied by a Chinese Olympic committee member who translated all of her comments into Chinese. She stated that her social media post had been the subject of a “enormous misunderstanding” by the general public.

‘Do you want to talk about sexual assault?’ She told the magazine, “I never said someone forced me to consent to a sexual assault.”

‘This post caused a great deal of misunderstanding in the outside world.’ My wish is that this post’s message is no longer twisted.’

On Sunday, two days after the Winter Olympics officially began, L’Equipe was able to speak with Peng Shuai at the Chinese Olympic Committee hotel in Beijing.

According to Mail Online, the magazine stipulated that all questions be submitted to Chinese officials ahead of time as a condition of the interview.

They were told that Peng, who speaks English, would only respond in Chinese and that an official would be there to translate throughout the conversation.

L’Equipe, on the other hand, was able to provide its own translator to double-check the official’s remarks.

The interview was supposed to last half an hour but ended up lasting about an hour, and the magazine said its correspondents were allowed to ask some unplanned questions.

Despite rejecting her own social media post, Peng delivered essentially similar replies to those printed in Chinese state media, according to the report.

L’Equipe consented to publish her responses in a question-and-answer style, verbatim.

‘First and foremost, I would like to thank all of the ATP and WTA players, all of the athletes, and all of the celebrities that cared about me in big numbers,’ she stated.

‘However, I didn’t anticipate such alarm, and I’m curious as to why there is such concern.’

‘I never claimed to have been sexually attacked in any way.’

‘I was never hidden; everyone could see me.’ It’s only that a lot of people, including friends from the IOC, messaged me, and it was impossible to respond to all of them.

‘However, I always kept in touch with my close friends.’ I talked with them, answered their emails, and talked with the WTA as well.

‘However, their website’s communication computer was altered at the end of the year, and many players experienced trouble logging in at that time.’

‘However, we always maintained in touch with our coworkers.’ That’s why I’m baffled as to why word of my disappearance spread.

‘From the outside world, this post has caused a lot of confusion. I hope we aren’t distorting the message of this post any longer. Also, I hope we don’t add any more buzz to this.’

Peng claims she was only partially aware of the international uproar that ensued after her social media post was abruptly deleted.

The WTA, which rules women’s tennis, declared a suspension of tournaments in China in the following weeks.

‘I don’t think I was aware of it all (global interest),’ Peng explained, adding that she doesn’t watch much foreign media coverage.

‘I’m not a native English speaker, but I heard about it. ‘However, I never expected such concern, and I’m curious as to why.’

‘I didn’t select anything,’ Peng continued. I saw the statement on the official WTA website, just like everyone else and just like you.

‘It was uncharacteristic of me; why would I require it?’

‘It was strange for me; why would I need psychological help or anything like that?’ I had no idea how I was going to figure it out. But I believe it’s a touch excessive if the WTA psychologists couldn’t reach me and assumed I’d vanished.

‘As a result of reading this statement, I personally wrote to WTA president Steve Simon.’

‘I sent several copies, and these emails were written by me.’ This is my own declaration. I then shared it to my colleagues in the players’ department via WeChat that same evening to personally certify that the messages sent from my work email were mine.’

Peng, who was already well-known in China, became the first Chinese player to reach the top of the rankings.

Peng claimed on the Chinese social media site Weibo that she and Zhang, who is married, had been having an on-again, off-again relationship since they met in the port city of Tianjin in 2011.

Peng slept with Zhang once that year, and potentially a second time before being promoted to the top levels of China’s Communist Party and cutting all relations with her, according to the article.

After his departure from politics in 2018, he allegedly restarted the affair by asking Peng to dinner with his wife, after which he allegedly forced her into sex.

Peng remembers ‘weeping’ and turning down Zhang’s approaches before eventually giving in. Peng claimed that this sparked a three-year affair that she regarded as “unpleasant.”

Categorized as Sport

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