The WTA has called on China to look into the allegations that tennis star Peng Shuai had sexual assaulted her male coach, saying it “remains sensitive and a matter of serious concern for us”.
The China Central Television (CCTV) has named Peng in an on-screen banner saying she had “beaten” her male coach in front of members of the public at the Shanghai Masters tournament, where Peng is ranked 15th. Peng faces a long legal process to clear her name.
Peng Shuai takes break from tennis over ‘violent’ assault allegations Read more
Local media alleged that Peng, 32, choked and kicked the unnamed coach at a Shanghai restaurant, leaving bruises and red marks on his arm. It was then that the coach said he had been attacked “with force” and slapped by Peng, the report said.
Peng’s lawyer Minna Wan quoted the coach as saying that the incident took place in December last year. He alleged the whole incident was caught on a live television broadcast, which he said was leaked to the media.
He said Peng regretted the incident, but that she had still not spoken to him since the incident, Wan told Chinese media.
Peng apologised for letting down her husband, Zhang Zhe, who was also at the scene at the time of the alleged assault. He is ranked 89th in the world and is known as Peng’s boyfriend and legal representative, according to the Chinese sports magazine Sports Player, and she has defended Zhang from a number of allegations of gambling and substance abuse.
A statement on her social media page said: “I was really shocked when I heard of this story, given our long history together and how much I cherish our relationship.”
The WTA, the elite women’s tennis tour, said in a statement: “We are deeply troubled by the allegations made in the recent CCTV report … We are extremely concerned about the status of the victim and the safety of women athletes everywhere.
“Because it is a very sensitive and a matter of serious concern for us, we are not able to share details at this time. We will continue to follow the situation closely as it develops and will engage relevant authorities to gather more information.”