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Serena Williams shares ‘shock’ at news of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai’s disappearance

Serena Williams has spoken of her ‘devastation and shock’ in urging an investigation into the disappearance of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai.

Fears continue to mount for Shuai, 35, who was once ranked the best female doubles player in the world, who has not been seen since she accused the country’s former deputy prime minister of rape on Nov. 2.

Williams, 40, 23 times Grand Slam champion, publicly called on authorities to launch an investigation into Shuai’s disappearance and urged those involved “not to keep silent.”

She tweeted on Wednesday: ‘I am devastated and shocked to hear the news from my colleague, Peng Shuai. I hope she is safe and that they find her as soon as possible.

‘This must be investigated and we must not remain silent. Sending love to her and her family during this incredibly difficult time. ”

It comes after Chinese state media published an email in English that they claimed was written by Peng, which read: ‘I am not lost, nor am I unsure.’ I’ve just been resting at home and everything is fine. ‘

Steve Simon, director of the Women’s Tennis Association, said she has a “hard time believing” that Peng wrote the email herself and that “I am only concerned about her safety and her whereabouts.”

Simon said no one from the WTA has been in direct contact with Peng since he accused a 75-year-old Communist Party official, Zhang Gaoli, of forcing her to have sex on Chinese social media two weeks ago.

23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, 40, publicly called on authorities to launch an investigation into Shuai's disappearance and urged those involved to 'not keep silent'

23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, 40, publicly called on authorities to launch an investigation into Shuai’s disappearance and urged those involved to ‘not keep silent’

Serena Williams tweeted about her 'devastation and shock' when she urged an investigation into the disappearance of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai.

Serena Williams tweeted about her 'devastation and shock' when she urged an investigation into the disappearance of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai.

Serena Williams tweeted about her ‘devastation and shock’ when she urged an investigation into the disappearance of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai.

Peng shuai

Peng shuai

Peng shuai

Peng shuai

Peng Shuai, 35, a Chinese tennis star, has not been seen since Nov. 2 when she posted on social media accusing a senior communist official of sexual abuse.

Fears for her safety escalated on Wednesday when Chinese state media published what they claimed was an email written by her saying: 'I have just been resting at home and everything is fine.'

Fears for her safety escalated on Wednesday when Chinese state media published what they claimed was an email written by her saying: 'I have just been resting at home and everything is fine.'

Fears for her safety escalated on Wednesday when Chinese state media published what they claimed was an email written by her saying: ‘I have just been resting at home and everything is fine.’

Social media users were quick to point out oddities with the 'email', including that it is addressed to 'everyone' despite the fact that it is supposedly a private message and that a typing cursor appears to blink in the middle of the message, which which suggests it is open in a word processor

Social media users were quick to point out oddities with the 'email', including that it is addressed to 'everyone' despite the fact that it is supposedly a private message and that a typing cursor appears to blink in the middle of the message, which which suggests it is open in a word processor

Social media users were quick to point out oddities with the ’email’, including that it is addressed to ‘everyone’ despite the fact that it is supposedly a private message and that a typing cursor appears to blink in the middle of the message, which which suggests it is open in a word processor

“The statement released today by Chinese state media about Peng Shuai only raises my concern regarding his safety and his whereabouts,” he said.

“I have a hard time believing that Peng Shuai actually wrote the email we received or believes what is attributed to him.”

The email posted by CTGN reads: ‘Hello everyone, I am Peng Shuai,

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

Peng claimed to have been involved in a ten-year affair with Zhang Gaoli (pictured), saying he sexually assaulted her in 2018.

Peng claimed to have been involved in a ten-year affair with Zhang Gaoli (pictured), saying he sexually assaulted her in 2018.

Peng claimed to have been involved in a ten-year affair with Zhang Gaoli (pictured), saying he sexually assaulted her in 2018.

‘The news in that statement, including the sexual assault charge, is not true. I don’t get lost or feel insecure. I have just been resting at home and everything is fine.

Thanks again for caring about me.

‘If the WTA publishes more news about me, please check it with me and publish it with my consent. As a professional tennis player, I believe all of you for your company and consideration.

‘I hope to promote Chinese tennis with all of you if I get the chance in the future. I hope that Chinese tennis is getting better and better.

Once again, thank you for your consideration.

Social media users were quick to point out oddities with the email, including Peng opening ‘hello everyone’ even though it was supposedly a private correspondence addressed to Simon.

They also noted that a writing cursor appears in the middle of one of the sentences, suggesting that the ’email’ is actually a screenshot taken directly from a document that is open in a word processor.

Advocacy group Chinese Human Rights Defenders added that email “should not be taken at face value” and that the Chinese state has a history of arbitrarily detaining people who implicate the government or its officials in wrongdoing.

Fellow tennis players have been leading appeals for news of Peng’s safety, with Japanese ace Naomi Osaka saying she is ‘shocked’ by his sudden disappearance.

Peng first made headlines on November 2 when she uploaded a lengthy post to her personal Weibo account, the Chinese version of Facebook, accusing Zhang of forcing her to have sex during a year-long affair.

In the post, Peng revealed that she and Zhang, who is married, were involved in an on-off romance dating back to 2011 when the couple first met in the port city of Tianjin, where Zhang was the prime minister at the time.

The post details how Peng slept with Zhang once that year, and possibly a second time before he was promoted to the country’s powerful political bureau and severed all ties with her.

But he reportedly rekindled the affair in 2018 after his retirement from politics, inviting Peng to dinner with his wife, after which he pressured her to have sex.

Peng remembers ‘crying’ and rejecting Zhang’s advances, before finally giving in.

That started a three-year affair, Peng alleged, describing it as “unpleasant.”

Peng made the accusation in a lengthy social media post on Weibo that was quickly removed before his account was heavily censored.

Peng made the accusation in a lengthy social media post on Weibo that was quickly removed before his account was heavily censored.

Peng made the accusation in a lengthy social media post on Weibo that was quickly removed before his account was heavily censored.

Peng is a household name in China after becoming the first Chinese woman to rank No. 1 in doubles, and is currently ranked 14.

Peng is a household name in China after becoming the first Chinese woman to rank No. 1 in doubles, and is currently ranked 14.

Peng is a household name in China after becoming the first Chinese woman to rank No. 1 in doubles, and is currently ranked 14.

In the post, he admits that he “has no evidence” that the affair took place because Zhang insisted on keeping it a total secret.

His post concluded: ‘You said you are not afraid.

‘But just like an egg thrown on a rock, a moth on a flame for self-destruction, I will tell the truth with you.’

It is unclear why he decided to reveal the matter now.

Zhang was deputy prime minister in Beijing and served on the powerful seven-member standing committee of the ruling party’s political bureau.

Peng is a household name in China, as she became the first Chinese player to be ranked No. 1 in doubles by the Women’s Tennis Association in 2014.

It is currently ranked 14th in the world rankings.

His post was removed within 20 minutes of being uploaded to Weibo, which is heavily monitored by the Chinese state.

For a time, Peng’s profile appeared to be disabled and was not showing up in searches for the site.

The profile reappeared later, but the offending post was removed and comments on all other Peng posts were disabled.

Weibo users were also banned from posting anything about Peng or Zhang, even if the post didn’t mention the alleged matter, and searches for terms like ‘tennis’ were disabled for a time on Chinese websites.

China’s Foreign Ministry has denied any knowledge of the matter, and Zhang has also not responded to requests for comment.

Lv Pin, a Chinese women’s rights activist, tweeted shortly after the post was revealed: [the CCP] I’ve always been rotten and decadent

They’ve always been exploiting women, but it’s just been done behind black curtains.

“Its revelation is very important, as it allows people to get a glimpse of the real life of China’s highest leaders, their excessive abuse of power, corruption and fear behind a moral facade shrouded in power.”

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