WTA issues statement on Peng Shuai's #Metoo allegations, says all women "deserve to be heard"

Peng Shuai is facing censoring in China following her allegations against a top politician.
Peng Shuai is facing censoring in China following her allegations against a top politician.

Peng Shuai's sexual harassment allegations against former Vice Premier of China Zhang Gaoli have generated widespread furor in the tennis world. Social media users have expressed strong reactions ever since Peng's comments, which have been described as the first-of-their-kind against a top Chinese politician, were first made public on Weibo.

Now, the women's tennis governing body - the WTA - has issued a statement on the issue demanding action from the Chinese authorities.

Peng, a former doubles World No. 1, is currently facing blanket censorship in China, with her initial posts having been taken down. There are also fears about her safety and well-being, with reports suggesting she is nowhere to be found right now.

Users on Twitter have been fighting for Peng's case using the #WhereisPengShuai hashtag. Journalists, tennis observers and the general public have also come out criticizing China's "hypocritical" and "corrupt" ways on social media websites.

Amidst the furor, scribes and fellow pros also took notice of the WTA's initial silence. Former American player Jamie Hampton was one of many prominent tennis personalities who expressed surprise at the lack of noise on the issue.

But in a statement released on Sunday, WTA Chairman and CEO Steve Simon expressed "deep concern" regarding the recent events. The four-paragraph-long letter also made an appeal for a "fair" and "transparent" investigation into Peng's allegations.

Simon wrote that the WTA is dedicated to empowering its women, before adding that Peng, much like all abuse victims, "deserves to be heard".

"The recent events in China concerning a WTA player, Peng Shuai, are of deep concern," the statement read. "As an organization 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," the statement went on. "Her accusation about the conduct of a former Chinese leader involving a sexual assault must be treated with the utmost seriousness."

Steve Simon also praised Peng Shuai for speaking up about her ordeal, and hinted that any censorship of the player would not be taken lying down.

"We commend Peng Shuai for her remarkable courage and strength in coming forward," the statement continued. "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 censorship."

Tennis fratenity and social media users welcome WTA's latest statement

Steve Simon's latest statement was welcomed by the tennis fraternity.
Steve Simon's latest statement was welcomed by the tennis fraternity.

The WTA's statement has been welcomed by the tennis fraternity and the general public, who are keeping a close watch on the developments in China.

Organizers of the Hamburg European Open commended the governing body for voicing their support, before expressing their own concern for Peng Shuai's well-being. Social media users also variously praised the WTA for making a "good start" and "standing up" for Peng.

The Matt Roberts, Catherine Whitaker and David Law-run The Tennis Podcast's Twitter handle was amongst several to have reposted the WTA's latest statement.

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Edited by Musab Abid
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