“I have never spoken or written about someone sexually abusing me,” Peng told Singapore-based Chinese-language newspaper Lianhe Zaobao on Sunday in its first comments to international media since the explosive allegations became known.
When asked if she could move around freely or was concerned about her safety, Peng said she was “always free” and lives in her home in Beijing.
The interview took place on Sunday on the sidelines of the cross-country skiing competition of the International Ski Federation in Shanghai, where Peng was also photographed with the Chinese basketball legend Yao Ming and two former Olympians: sailor Xu Lijia and table tennis player Wang Liqin.
“First and foremost, it’s my privacy. There may have been a lot of misunderstandings so there shouldn’t be such a skewed interpretation here,” she said.
According to screenshots from this post, the two-time Grand Slam double winner accused former Vice Prime Minister Zhang Gaoli of pressuring her to have sex in his house three years ago.
The Chinese authorities have not acknowledged the sexual assault allegations against Zhang and the discussion on the issue continues to be censored in China.
In the interview on Sunday, Peng expressed her appreciation for the IOC and said she was “very grateful” to the Olympic body and was “very happy to have video calls with them”.
A WTA spokesman told CNN on Monday: “It was good to see Peng Shuai in public and we obviously hope that she is fine.
âAs we have found time and time again, these appearances do not mitigate or address the WTA’s significant concerns about its wellbeing and ability to communicate without censorship or coercion. We stand firm in our call for a full, fair and transparent investigation without censorship. into her sexual assault allegation, which sparked our initial concern. “
CNN has repeatedly asked for comments from both Peng and the Chinese State Council, which handles press inquiries for the central government.
From 2012 to 2017, the 75-year-old Zhang served as Deputy Prime Minister alongside President Xi Jinping on the seven-member Standing Committee of the Political Bureau – the country’s highest governing body.