Serena Williams took Twitter on Thursday to address the disappearance of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai.
Shuai went missing after making a sexual assault claim against a top Chinese official.
Williams wrote, “I am devastated and shocked to hear about the news of my peer, Peng Shuai. I hope she is safe and found as soon as possible. This must be investigated and we must not stay silent. Sending love to her and her family during this incredibly difficult time. #whereispengshuai.”
There’s something wrong with this situation, and hopefully, Shuai is safe wherever she’s at.
“The 35-year-old former top-ranked player in women’s doubles won titles at Wimbledon in 2013 and the French Open in 2014. She also participated in three Olympics, making her disappearance all the more prominent with Beijing set to host the Winter Games starting Feb. 4,” per ESPN.
Peng has been missing for several weeks now, and some real fishy stuff has happened.
On 2 November 2021, Peng posted a lengthy message on her verified Weibo microblog account, accusing Zhang Gaoli, a former senior Chinese vice premier and high-ranking member of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), of sexual assault, three years earlier.Peng said that Zhang had an on-off extramarital affair with her. This was the first time a member of the top echelons of the CCP faced such sexual misconduct allegations in public.
The accusation drew attention to the #MeToo movement in China. Her post was removed from Weibo within 20 minutes of being uploaded, although screenshots of the posting were saved. All discussion about the matter became subject to blanket censorship on all Chinese social media and news outlets. Since her accusation, and as of 18 November 2021, she has not communicated on social media. When asked about Peng’s whereabouts, foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said “I have not heard of the issue you raised. This is not a diplomatic question.” Wenbin’s dialogue was later deleted from the press release issued on the official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China. On November 17, foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian was asked about the matter again at a regular press conference. He replied that the matter was not a diplomatic issue and suggested that the reporter contact the ‘relevant department’. Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the state tabloid Global Times tweeted “As a person who is familiar with Chinese system, I don’t believe Peng Shuai has received retaliation and repression speculated by foreign media for the thing people talked about”. Commentators seized upon the “he who must not be named” wording in Hu’s tweet, and noted that the heavily opinionated Global Times has not covered the accusations against the former vice-premier at all.
On 17 November, Chinese state media outlet China Global Television Network released an email allegedly written by Peng to chief executive of WTA Steve Simon, which stated that she was resting at home and that her allegation of sexual assault was not true, and that she was not missing. The email also criticized the WTA for releasing what it claimed was unverified information about Peng without her consent. The authenticity of the email was cast in doubt with many pointing out that a typing cursor appears to be visible on the screenshot of the email. Responding in regard to the email, Simon stated that it only raised his concerns as to her safety and whereabouts.
Many people feel that Peng will never be found.
Flip the pages for the Twitter reactions to Williams Tweets.