Updated Nov 18, 2021 - Sports

Fears grow for China's missing tennis star

Peng Shuai of China looks on during her match against during the Connecticut Open in 2017.

Peng Shuai. Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Serena Williams is the latest top athlete to speak out about Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai on Thursday, calling for an investigation into her disappearance amid concern for her safety.

Why it matters: Peng, 35, has not been seen in public since she accused China's former vice premier of sexual assault earlier this month. China's state-controlled media suppressed all reporting on the case.

  • The allegations on Peng's social media page were removed earlier this month, and China's state-controlled media has suppressed all reporting on the case, AP reports.
  • Tennis authorities have called for a full investigation into the allegations by the two-time Grand Slam doubles champion.
  • Williams joins tennis stars including Naomi Osaka and Novak Djokovic who've drawn international attention to Peng's disappearance.

Driving the news: On Wednesday, China's state-owned broadcaster CGTN released an email purportedly from Peng, in which she claims she is fine and appears to deny her previous allegations.

What they're saying: "I am devastated and shocked to hear about the news of my peer, Peng Shuai," Williams tweeted.

  • "I hope she is safe and found as soon as possible. This must be investigated and we must not stay silent. Sending love to her and her family during this incredibly difficult time.
  • “Not sure if you’ve been following the news but I was recently informed of a fellow tennis player that has gone missing shortly after revealing that she has been sexually abused," Osaka wrote on Twitter. "Censorship is never ok at any cost.”
  • "Honestly it's shocking that she's missing," Djokovic said, according to AFP. "There's not much more to say than to hope that she's ok and it's just terrible... I can imagine how her family feels, you know, that she's missing."

Worth noting: The WTA has called on Chinese officials to investigate Peng's sexual assault allegations.

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