Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai denies making assault against Communist Party leader

Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai has denied allegations that accuses her of sexual assault against a retired Communist Party leader, following more than a month of growing concern about her safety and whereabouts.

She has now claimed there is “a lot of misunderstandings” about the post.

“I have never spoken or written about anyone sexually assaulting me,” Peng told Singapore-based Chinese-language newspaper Lianhe Zaobao on Sunday, in her first comments to international media since the allegations came to light.

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

When asked if she has been able to move freely or was concerned about her safety, Peng said she has “always been free” and that she has been living at her home in Beijing.”

Lianhe Zaobao is read in mainland China and has in recent years been known for its pro-Beijing coverage.

The interview was carried out on the sidelines of a sporting event in Shanghai, where she appeared with national athletes including basketball player Yao Ming.

However, skepticism remains about how freely Peng has been allowed to communicate, as well as calls for an investigation into the allegations.Peng said there was a misunderstanding about the since-deleted social media post on her verified account on Weibo(China’s Twitter-like social media platform), which detailed the allegations on November 2.”First of all, it’s my personal privacy. There possibly has been a lot of misunderstanding. Therefore, there should not be such distorted interpretation here,” she said.

Amid growing global outcry over her safety, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it held at least two video calls with her, saying the Chinese tennis star “reconfirmed” she was safe and well.

In Sunday’s interview, Peng expressed her appreciation toward the IOC, saying she feels “very grateful” to the Olympic body and was “very happy to have video calls with them.”

Peng also said she wrote an email to WTA chairman and CEO Steve Simon recanting the allegations “completely of my own will.” 

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