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Nicolas Mahut makes a wonderful gesture to Peng Shuai, wins hearts on Twitter

Nicolas Mahut (R) has won hearts with his nice gesture towards Peng Shuai (L)
Nicolas Mahut (R) has won hearts with his nice gesture towards Peng Shuai (L)
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Sudeshna Banerjee

World No. 5 doubles ace Nicolas Mahut on Thursday invited Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai to hand over the winner's trophy at the ongoing Open P2i Angers Loire on Sunday.

In a video posted on the Open P2i Angers Loire Twitter handle, the Frenchman, who is the tournament director of the WTA 125 event, made the plea to Peng Shuai, whose whereabouts are currently unknown.

"Hello, it's Nicolas Mahut," said the 39-year-old. "I am the tournament director of WTA 125 Open P2i Angers Loire. Everything is going well for this first edition but one particular player is missing - Peng Shuai. You are not on the court this week, so I would like to invite you to deliver the trophy to our winner on Sunday, in my city. Peng Shuai, we are waiting for you."

Peng Shuai, a former top-ranked women's doubles player, has been in the news since November 2 following her allegations of sexual assault against China's former Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli. The 35-year-old's social media post was subsequently taken down and her safety and security have been a matter of grave concern since.

With China failing to provide concrete proof of Peng Shuai's current status, the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) proceeded to sever all its business ties with the country.

The International Olympic Committee, however, has claimed to have held video calls with the Chinese player twice since her revelations.

Twitter reacts to Nicolas Mahut's message for Peng Shuai

With the world eagerly waiting for Peng Shuai to appear publicly and speak freely, Nicolas Mahut's kind gesture warmed the hearts of many on Twitter. Even British tennis player Tara Moore appreciated Mahut's efforts.

Here are some of the best reactions:

This is an incredible move by a fantastic player and TD (when did this happen btw!) ❤️#WaitingForPengShuai #FreePengShuai twitter.com/loireopen/stat…
@LoireOpen @WTA @atptour @ITFTennis @FFTennis I have so much admiration for these french players speaking out on behalf of #WhereIsPengShuai 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻
I love this man and how much he's fighting for this cause so much 😭 only(?) tennis players who's still talking about her. #FreePengShuai #WaitingForPengShuai twitter.com/LoireOpen/stat…
That's incredible!If she really is free, then she'll come! We won't give up 💪🏻 twitter.com/LoireOpen/stat…
this is actually so heartwarming im genuinely in tears 😭. thank you for your continuous efforts 🙏 twitter.com/loireopen/stat…

Mahut has threatened not to play in China if the situation doesn't improve

Nicolas Mahut, a winner of five Grand Slam titles including the 2021 Roland Garros, has been one of the first few players to speak out on the Peng Shuai incident since the matter came to light. The former World No. 1 has been making frequent posts on social media to raise awareness of the issue.

In one of his posts, Mahut wrote:

"Enough said! The voices of women need to be heard and respected, not censored nor dictated to. Keep fighting Steve Simon…Thomas Bach, do you not feel involved?"
Enough said 👏👏👏« The voices of women need to be heard and respected, not censored nor dictated to. »Keep fighting Steve Simon…Thomas Bach, do you not feel involved? @iocmedia @Beijing2022 #whereispengshuai twitter.com/WTA/status/146…

While he lauded the stand taken by the WTA Chairman & CEO Steve Simon, Mahut wants the International Tennis Federation and the International Olympic Committee to walk the same path.

The Frenchman has never shied away from speaking his mind regarding the matter and has even threatened never to play any tournament in China until the situation improves.

Even after winning the ATP Finals title with Pierre-Hugues Herbert last month in Turin, Mahut took the opportunity to sign on the camera, "Where is Peng Shuai?" to show his support.

Some things are bigger than winning trophies. @nmahut @p2hugz #NittoATPFinals https://t.co/DtyDUD13f5

Edited by Nihal Taraporvala
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