An editor at Chinese state broadcaster CGTN on Saturday tweeted videos that he said were of the missing tennis star Peng Shuai at a restaurant with friends, but the head of the Women’s Tennis Association deemed them “insufficient” proof that she was “free” from “coercion.”
At around noon Saturday ET, Shen Siwei, an editor at CGTN, tweeted three videos and a photo of Peng purportedly taken at dinner with friends.
It was unclear when the videos were recorded, and Forbes was not able to independently verify their authenticity.
In response to the videos, WTA CEO Steve Simon said in a statement that while he was “glad” to see videos of Peng, he believed “this video alone is insufficient” to show that she was “free and able to make decisions and take actions on her own, without coercion or external interference.”
Simon went on to say he was concerned that Peng’s accusations that former vice premier Zhang Gaoli had pressured her to have sex were being “censored and swept under the rug.”
Simon added that the tour’s relations with China are “at a crossroads,” echoing his comment made on CNN on Thursday that the tour could pull out of China—and risk losing up to $1 billion – if Peng’s allegations aren’t investigated and the world sees proof of her well-being.
On Friday, CGTN’s Shen tweeted photos of Peng, prompting more questions about her whereabouts, as the username of “Peng’s friend” who he claimed had sent him the pictures appeared to read “Peng Shuai 2” in Chinese. Peng, 35, the former women’s doubles No. 1, disappeared on November 2 after posting explosive allegations against Zhang on social media. Simon expressed doubt over the authenticity of an email the organization received on Wednesday that the Chinese state media claimed was written by Peng. In the email, which the state media tweeted, Peng says, “I’m not missing, nor am I unsafe. I’m just resting at home.” The email raised even more concerns over her safety as there appeared to be a cursor in the second sentence.
Swiss tennis star Roger Federer was the latest player to voice support for Peng on Saturday, joining Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka and Novak Djokovic, to name a few, as well as the United Nations and Wimbledon. Federer told Sky Italia, “she’s one of our tennis champions, a former world No.1, and clearly it’s concerning.”
Purported Photos Of Missing Chinese Tennis Player Peng Shuai Released By State Media Editor Spark Questions (Forbes)
U.N. Calls For Proof Of Missing Tennis Star Peng Shuai’s Safety (Forbes)
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WTA Chief Doubts Authenticity Of Email It Received Purported To Be From Missing Tennis Star Peng Shuai (Forbes)
Tennis Star’s Sexual Assault Claim Against Ex-Top Chinese Official Triggers Online Censors (Forbes)