Concerns surrounding Peng Shuai’s wellbeing continue to grow as more tennis stars publicly speak out.
The 35-year-old disappeared from the public eye after making allegations of sexual assault against China’s former vice-premier, Zhang Gaoli on social media platform Weibo.
The post was removed by the site shortly after and search terms including Peng’s name and ‘tennis’ were also blocked.
Following the disappearance of Peng, a number of high profile names within the tennis industry started a social media movement under the hashtag #WhereIsPengShuai, including Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka.
Shortly after, footage of the former doubles world number one attending social events emerged online, but WTA chief executive Steve Simon remains concerned over her wellbeing.
A letter purportedly written by Peng was released by Chinese state media and the tennis star also spoke to International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach via video call, according to a statement the organisation released.
Simon has said this is “insufficient” evidence of claims that Peng is safe and well and he has continued to try to get into contact with the player.
The WTA has stated it remains “deeply concerned” over Peng’s welfare after her responses to attempted contact from Simon seemed “clear [they] were influenced by others.”
Daniil Medvedev is one of the latest within the tennis community to speak out on the situation and has raised doubts over whether players would be willing to play in China given the current circumstances.
“If there was a tournament in China next week, nobody would be comfortable,” the world number two admitted. “What we all want is to see that Peng is fine, which we do not know 100 percent.”
As doubts continue to spread, the WTA has suspended all tournaments in China with immediate effect.
“The WTA made a strong decision, but I don’t want to blame anyone who doesn’t make the same decision,” Medvedev continued.
In the wake of the widespread concern, China’s foreign ministry has condemned the “malicious hyping” of the situation and has stated Peng’s whereabouts and wellbeing are “not a diplomatic matter.”