Peng Shuai: Who is the Chinese tennis star, what has happened to her, is she missing and what has the WTA said?

CHINESE tennis star Peng Shuai has not been seen since she released a statement claiming she had been sexually assaulted by a government minister.

Peng Shuai has not been seen since the start of November.
Peng Shuai has not been seen since the start of November.

The tennis star has been the subject of worldwide speculation after she posted a statement including sexual assault allegations against a former powerful Chinese government official earlier this month.

Peng has not been seen since the statement was released.

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Here is everything we know about Peng and her disappearance so far:

Who is Peng Shuai?

Peng is a Chinese professional tennis player and was ranked doubles world number one by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA).

She was the first Chinese tennis plater to be ranked in the position in February 2014.

Peng has won two singles and 22 doubles titles in her career after going professional in 2001.

She was born in Xiangtan, Hunan province, China on January 8, 1986.

Peng is currently 35-years-old.

What has happened and is she missing?

Earlier this month, Peng accused former senior Chinese vice president, Zhang Gaoli, of sexually assaulting her.

After the allegations were made, Peng disappeared and has not been see since November 2.

On November 17, Chinese state media released an email on social media platform Twitter that was supposedly from the tennis star.

The WTA has since questioned the emails authenticity.

The email, which was released by state media organisation CGTN reads:

‘Hello everyone this is Peng Shuai.

'Regarding the recent news released on the official website of the WTA, the content has not been confirmed or verified by myself and it was released without my consent.

'The news in that release, including the allegation of sexual assault, is not true. I'm not missing, nor am I unsafe. I've just been resting at home and everything is fine.

'Thank you again for caring about me.

'If the WTA publishes any more news about me, please verify it with me, and release it with my consent. As a professional tennis player, I think you all for your companionship and consideration.

'I hope to promote Chinese tennis with you all if I have the chance in the future. I hope Chinese tennis will become better and better.

'Once again, thank you for your consideration.'

Chairman of the WTA, Steve Simon, questioned the letter, stating the piece made him more worried for Peng's safety.

He told the Daily Mail: 'The statement released today by Chinese state media concerning Peng Shuai only raises my concerns as to her safety and whereabouts.

'I have a hard time believing that Peng Shuai actually wrote the email we received or believes what is being attributed to her.'

Have other celebrities spoken out about the tennis star?

Tennis legend Serena Williams is amongst many celebrities who have spoken out about the disappearance of Peng.

Serena tweeted: '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.'

What has WTA said?

The organisation tweeted #freepengshuai this week.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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