WTA Receives Email It Doubts Is From Peng Shuai

WTA Jiangxi Open Shuai Peng
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A Chinese media outlet has posted a copy of an e-mail it says was written by missing WTA tennis star Peng Shuai to the tour’s CEO Steve Simon. The content of the brief e-mail was tweeted by CGTN Europe, a China state-affiliated media organization.

The e-mail purporting to be from Peng claims the missing star has been “resting at home.” She has not been seen since she posted allegations of sexual assault against a politician on the Chinese social media platform Weibo.

Simon, on behalf of the WTA, immediately reacted with doubt about the email. Simon released a statement saying, “I have a hard time believing that Peng Shuai actually wrote the email we received.”

The tersely-worded screenshot from China has been met with an outcry of suspicion and doubt on social media as well.

Earlier this week, in a unique display of unity, both the WTA and ATP issued statements in support of Peng and called for an investigation into the allegations of sexual assault. Simon of the WTA even went as far as to threaten to stop doing business in China unless Peng turned up.

The e-mail, which purports to be from Peng Shuai, asks the WTA to stop publishing news about her. This keeps with China’s general policy of censorship and attempts to scrub controversial allegations from the free press, the internet, and all social platforms.

The controversy comes on the heels of reports that the United States is planning a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games due to human rights violations, even though athletes will still be free to travel to Beijing to compete.

The disappearance comes at a pivotal time for the relationship between the WTA and China. The tennis tour heavily invested in China, including signing huge contracts to host events such as the WTA Finals. However, due to the pandemic-related closing of borders, those Finals, as well as other Asian events, have been cancelled for two straight years.

WTA events in Asia have also been marred by low fan turnout, diminished TV ratings, and reduced enthusiasm.

Main Photo from Getty.