Novak Djokovic has stressed his “shock” at the disappearance of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai as the ATP echoed calls from the WTA that her alleged sexual assault be investigated.
Peng made allegations against China’s former Vice Premier, Zhang Gaoli, on her verified Weibo social media account on November 2nd.
The 35-year-old claimed she was coerced into having sexual relations with Zhang, which began an on-off consensual relationship with the former Politburo Standing Committee member.
Since then, Peng has not been seen or heard, heightening fears over her safety.
And men’s world number one, Djokovic, has now offered his thoughts on the situation.
“I did hear about it a week ago and, honestly, it’s shocking,” he said. “More so that it’s someone I’ve seen on the tour in previous years quite a few times.”
Djokovic’s words come after the ATP joined the WTA in urging for a “full, fair and transparent investigation.”
The men’s tour had come under increasing pressure to offer support after the WTA released a statement praising Peng for her “remarkable courage.”
The statement read: "The recent events in China concerning a WTA player, Peng Shuai, are of deep concern," he said. "As an organisation dedicated to women, we remain committed to the principles we were founded on – equality, opportunity and respect.
"Peng Shuai, and all women, deserve to be heard, not censored. Her accusation about the conduct of a former Chinese leader involving a sexual assault must be treated with the utmost seriousness.
"In all societies, the behaviour she alleges that took place needs to be investigated, not condoned or ignored.
"We commend Peng Shuai for her remarkable courage and strength in coming forward. Women around the world are finding their voices so injustices can be corrected.
"We expect this issue to be handled properly, meaning the allegations must be investigated fully, fairly, transparently and without censors.”
And now, Andrea Gaudenzi, the ATP’s chairman has echoed these words.
“There is nothing more important to us than the safety of our tennis community.
“We have been deeply concerned by the uncertainty surrounding the immediate safety and whereabouts of WTA player Peng Shuai. We are encouraged by the recent assurances received by WTA that she is safe and accounted for and will continue to monitor the situation closely.
“Separately, we stand in full support of WTA’s call for a full, fair and transparent investigation into allegations of sexual assault against Peng Shuai.”
Peng’s accusations against Zhang mark the first time a sexual assault allegation has been made against one of China’s senior political leaders.
The tennis star has enjoyed a successful career to date and was ranked as high as 14th in singles in 2011.
Her finest achievement was reaching the US Open semi-finals in 2014, where she lost to Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets.News Now - Sport News