WTA concerned about coercion after Chinese star backtracks on sexual assault allegations

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Peng Shuai | AP

New Delhi: Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai has denied making an accusation of sexual assault in her first media interview since alleging a top Chinese leader had coerced her to have sex, BBC reported.

Peng sparked global concern when she disappeared from public view after posting the allegations online.

She has now said there had been "a lot of misunderstandings" about the post.

The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) said it was still concerned that she was being censored by the state, the report said.

In the video interview with Lianhe Zaobao, a Singaporean Chinese-language newspaper, Peng explained, "I have never said or written that anyone sexually assaulted me. This point must be emphasised very clearly."

However in her original note, which was posted on the Chinese social media platform Weibo in November, she accused former Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli of forcing her to have sex with him on a number of occasions.

Peng also told Lianhe Zaobao that she was not under surveillance, saying, "Why would anyone monitor (me?) (I have) always been very free."

The interview was done on the sidelines of a sporting event in Shanghai, where she appeared with other national athletes.

Responding to her latest comments, the WTA said it welcomed her appearance "in a public setting" but that it did not "alleviate or address… concerns about her well-being and ability to communicate without censorship or coercion.

"We remain steadfast in our call for a full, fair and transparent investigation… into her allegation of sexual assault, which is the issue that gave rise to our initial concern," the WTA said, the report said.


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