Chinese state media have posted footage of missing tennis star Peng Shuai wishing followers a “happy weekend”, whereas a video claiming to point out the 35-year-old at a restaurant was additionally launched.
The former Wimbledon and French Open doubles champion hasn’t been seen since November 3 after accusing a former high Chinese authorities official of sexual abuse.
Two-time Grand Slam champ Peng claimed that ex-vice premier Zhang Gaoli, 75, pressured her to have intercourse with him three years in the past.
Earlier this week, Chinese state media launched an e mail they mentioned was from Peng, the place she insisted that she is “safe” and her sexual abuse allegations weren’t true. However, the tennis world didn’t imagine the e-mail was truly despatched by her.
And now Chinese state TV reporter Shen Shiwei has tweeted footage of Peng from her WeChat account, displaying her with cuddly toys, The Sun studies.
Captioning the photos, he mentioned: “Peng Shuai’s WeChat moments simply posted three newest photos and mentioned ‘Happy weekend’.
“Her friend shared the three photos and the screenshot of Peng’s WeChat moments.”
One picture reveals the smiling participant with a cat in her arms, stuffed animals, a trophy and a Chinese flag seen within the background.
Another reveals a selfie of Peng with a picture of Winnie the Pooh within the background. The youngsters’s character is usually censored on-line in China as a result of critics say Chinese chief Xi Jinping resembles the cartoon.
Footage was additionally launched by Chinese state media claiming to point out Peng consuming at a restaurant with pals on Saturday evening.
In one of two movies posted on Twitter by Hu Xijin, the outspoken editor of the Global Times newspaper, Peng seems to be strolling right into a restaurant carrying a coat, knit cap and face masks.
In the opposite video clip, Peng is maskless sitting at a desk chatting with folks over a meal.
Hu wrote in English on Twitter that the second video reveals: “Peng Shuai was having dinner with her coach and friends in a restaurant. The video content clearly shows they are shot on Saturday Beijing time.”
The dialog revolved round “tennis matches” and a person sitting with Peng and two different girls says “tomorrow is November 20th”. But one of the ladies rapidly interrupts him to say, “It is the 21st” or Sunday.
The chat seems to be staged. It was filmed within the night hours with a cell phone and Peng appears to be relaxed within the footage.
However, girls’s tennis governing physique the WTA — which has been robust in repeatedly demanding proof of Peng’s wellbeing — isn’t happy.
“I am glad to see the videos released by China state-run media that appear to show Peng Shuai at a restaurant in Beijing,” WTA chief Steve Simon mentioned in an announcement.
“While it’s constructive to see her, it stays unclear if she is free and capable of make choices and take actions on her personal, with out coercion or exterior interference. This video alone is inadequate.
“As I have stated from the beginning, I remain concerned about Peng Shuai’s health and safety and that the allegation of sexual assault is being censored and swept under the rug. I have been clear about what needs to happen and our relationship with China is at a crossroads.”
Federer speaks up as gamers voice considerations
Many tennis gamers have spoken up and shared social media posts with the hashtag #whereispengshuai to place stress on the Chinese authorities to supply proof of her security.
Roger Federer addressed the matter on Sunday, telling Sky Italia: “She’s one of our tennis champions, a former world No. 1, and clearly it’s regarding. I hope she’s secure.
“The tennis household sticks collectively and I’ve at all times advised my youngsters as effectively that the tennis household is my second household. I’ve been on tour for 20-25 years and I really like the tour, I really like the folks which are there, (they) are particular, the gamers as effectively, and she or he’s one of them.
“I’ve been in touch with (ATP Tour) president Andrea Gaudenzi as well the last days, just to get any news, any feedback of the developing story. I just want her to be OK and that she’s safe and that we hear something hopefully soon.”
British star Andy Murray tweeted “Where is Peng Shuai?” whereas Serena Williams posted on social media: “I’m devastated and shocked to listen to concerning the news of my peer, Peng Shuai.
“I hope she is secure and located as quickly as attainable. This have to be investigated and we should not keep silent.
“Sending love to her and her family during this incredibly difficult time.”
Four-time grand slam champion Naomi Osaka is one other high-profile star who has weighed in. “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,” she wrote on social media.
“Censorship isn’t OK at any value, I hope Peng Shuai and her household are secure and OK.
“I’m in shock of the current situation and I’m sending love and light her way.”
Men’s world No. 1 Novak Djokovic is one other who has voiced considerations.
In a daring stand, Steve Simon has confirmed the WTA would rethink taking the ladies’s tennis tour to China, — a courageous risk given the monetary implications it might have.