The WTA is raising the tone in the Peng Shuai affair, which the tennis world remains without news of after it accused former Deputy Prime Minister Zhang Gaoli on social media of having forced her into a sexual relationship. three years ago, before making her his mistress.
The boss of the women's circuit, Steve Simon, says he is now ready to withdraw China from the cirtcuit if it does not clear up the matter.
"We are completely ready to withdraw (from China) our activities and face all the complications that arise from it," said the boss of women's tennis in an interview with CNN.
"Because it's (rape accusations) more important than business," Simon told US TV station.
On Wednesday, the Chinese English-language public channel CGTN unveiled a screenshot of an email attributed to Peng Shuai, which the Chinese player allegedly sent to the WTA management.
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.
- Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) November 18, 2021
On CNN, Mr. Simon reiterated his doubts about the authenticity of this message in which the champion declares "false" his accusations against Zhang Gaoli.
"I don't believe that's the truth at all," Simon told CNN, calling the email "staged".
"If she was forced to write it, if someone wrote it for her, we don't know […] but until we talk to her in person we won't be reassured," he said. the head of the WTA.
Asked several times, the spokespersons of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said they were completely ignorant of this affair, which they refused to comment on, arguing that it was not a diplomatic issue.
Peng Shuai case: Do tennis authorities really want to get angry with China?
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A fault ?