WTA CEO Steve Simon doubts email from missing Peng Shuai is real

(Photo by Fred Lee/Getty Images)

A recent email sent to WTA chairman and CEO Steve Simon, reportedly from Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, has raised concern amongst those within tennis.

The email, which was released by Chinese state media, is reportedly from Peng. In it, she says that she is “not missing, nor am I unsafe.”

“I’ve just been resting at home and everything is fine,” the email states. “Thank you again for caring about me.”

There have been growing concerns over the whereabouts of Shuai. The two-time Grand Slam doubles champion has not been seen in public since alleging that she was sexually abused by a top Chinese Minister on Nov. 2. She detailed the allegations in a now-deleted post uploaded to Weibo, a Chinese social media site. In the post, she revealed an on-and-off affair with Zhang Gaoli that later turned non-consensual.

On Monday, WTA chairman and CEO Steve Simon issued a statement, calling the events “of deep concern” and calling for an investigation into the matter.

He also told the New York Times that several sources have assured him that Peng is safe in China. However, no one associated with the WTA Tour — including officials and active players — has been able to contact her directly and confirm the reports.

The email released by Chinese state media rebukes reports released by the WTA, with Shuai allegedly writing that “the content has not been confirmed or verified by myself and it was released without my consent.”

“The news in [the WTA’s] release, including the allegation of sexual assault, is not true.”

The email later asks that the WTA verifies any more news with Shuai and releases it “with my consent.”

“As a professional tennis player, I thank you all for your companionship and consideration,” the email continues. “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.”

In a statement issued by the WTA, Simon expressed his concerns over the statement, saying it “only raises my concerns as to [Shuai’s] 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,” Simon wrote. “The WTA and the rest of the world need independent and verifiable proof that she is safe. I have repeatedly tried to reach her via numerous forms of communications, to no avail.”

Simon then reiterated that Shuai be allowed to speak freely, “without coercion or intimidation from any source.” Additionally, he backed up calls to investigate the matter “with full transparency and without censorship.”