The tennis world is demanding answers about the disappearance of Chinese professional tennis player Peng Shuai. On Thursday night, Women's Tennis Association chairman and CEO Steve Simon told CNN that the WTA is willing to pull all business out of China unless Peng is accounted for and her allegations are investigated.
Peng, 35, accused Zhang Gaoli, a former top ranking government official of the Chinese Communist Party, of sexual assault in a lengthy blog post. The allegations were deleted within a half hour and blanket censorship quickly worked to wipe out any mention of the scandal across the Chinese internet.
Since her post on Nov. 2, Peng hasn't been seen in public.
"We're definitely willing to pull our business and deal with all the complications that come with it," Simon told CNN. "Because this is certainly, this is bigger than the business... Women need to be respected and not censored."
Peng was once the WTA No. 1 ranked doubles player and won ladies' doubles championships at 2013 Wimbledon and the 2014 French Open. Naomi Osaka tweeted that she was "in shock" about the news of Peng's disappearance and Serena Williams tweeted her that she is "devastated."
I am devastated and shocked to hear about the news of my peer, Peng Shuai. 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. #whereispengshuai pic.twitter.com/GZG3zLTSC6— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) November 18, 2021
Among the WTA tournaments held in China is the China Open held in Beijing annually. The tournament was cancelled in both 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.