Peng Shuai Denies Sexual Assault Allegations In First Meeting With Western Media - UBITENNIS
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Peng Shuai Denies Sexual Assault Allegations In First Meeting With Western Media

During a interview with a French newspaper, Peng spoke at length about recent developments in her life.

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Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai says a ‘huge misunderstanding’ has occurred over a Weibo post by her in which she accused a former senior political figure of sexual abuse.

 

On November 2nd the two-time Grand Slam doubles champion published a lengthy post alleging that former Chinese Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli had forced her into sex during a years-long relationship. Sending shockwaves around the world as it is rare that such claims are made against senior members of the Chinese Communist Party who control most of the country’s media outlets.

The post vanished from the internet less than an hour after being posted and Peng disappeared from the public spotlight for weeks. Promoting international concern over her welfare amid fears she is being censored by authorities. Her claims were never covered by news outlets in China who are closely linked to the government. However, those same organizations subsequently published various photos and videos of the tennis star on social media aimed at the Western media.

Peng is currently in Beijing, where the Winter Olympic Games are taking place. For the first time since her Weibo post she has spoken to Western journalists after French sports newspaper L’Equipe were granted permission following a request. The interview took place under a series of agreements, including that she only answers in Chinese even though she has previously conducted press conferences in English. Also present during the interview was Mr Wang Kan, chief of staff for the Chinese Olympic Committee who acted as a translator. L’Equipe also used a Paris-based translator to verify what was said.

“There was a huge misunderstanding in the outside world following this post. I don’t want the meaning of this post to be twisted anymore. And I don’t want any further media hype around it,” Peng said during an hourlong interview.

The 36-year-old now insists that she never made any allegations of sexual assault against Gaoli despite the post which rapidly disappeared. When asked why it was removed, Peng said she deleted it. Questioned as to why she did so, she replied ‘because I wanted to.’ Censors in China prevented replicas of the post to be uploaded online and Peng’s Weibo account was censored from allowing others to comment on her posts.

Peng denies that she disappeared shortly after the publication of her Weibo post. Instead, she says she couldn’t reply to the sheer amount of messages which were being sent to her. Prior to L’Equipe, her only communication with a non-Chinese organization has been the International Olympic Committee who previously held video calls with her prior to the Olympics.

“I never disappeared. It’s just that many people, like my friends or people from the IOC messaged me, and it was simply impossible to answer so many messages,” she said.
“But I’ve been always in close contact with my close friends. I talked to them, I answered their emails, I also talked with the WTA.”

Peng says she was unaware of the level of interest she has generated around the world because she ‘doesn’t watch the news from foreign media’ very often. Various tennis players, human rights organizations and celebrities have spoken out in support of the tennis star in recent weeks. The hashtags #FreedomForPengShuai and #WhereisPengShuai has dominated social media.

Claiming that her life has been ‘nothing special’ since the Post was made public, Peng didn’t directly address if she got in trouble with the Chinese authorities.

“First of all, I’d like to say that feelings, sports and politics are three very distinct things. My lovelife problems, my personal life must not be mingled with sports and politics,” she said. “And sports must not be politicized because when that happens, most of the time it means turning one’s back on the Olympic spirit and it goes against the will of the sporting world and the athletes.”

Peng revealed that she held a meeting with IOC president Thomas Bach on Saturday. She says the two had a ‘nice discussion and exchange’ about topics mainly related to the Olympic movement. There was no mention as to if Bach made any inquiries about her welfare or discussed her previous allegations. Although Peng did say she would like to visit the Olympic museum in Lausanne, Switzerland.

As for her future in tennis, the former world No.1 doubles star indicated that she will be retiring from the WTA Tour due to ongoing knee problems but hopes to one day play in senior events.

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Linda Noskova upsets Garbine Muguruza to reach the second round in Lyon

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Linda Noskova beat former  world number 1 Garbine Muguruza 6-1 6-4 to reach the second round in Lyon. 

 

Noskova broke serve in the second and sixth games to close out the first set 6-1. 

Muguruza started the second set with a break in the second game to open up a 3-0 lead. 

Noskova broke back in the fifth game at deuce and saved fourth break point to draw level to 3-3. Noskova earned her second break in the ninth game to seal the second set 6-4 setting up a second round match against Egypt’s Mayar Sherif. 

Noskova became the youngest woman in the top 100 since Coco Gauff held his distinction in October 2019. 

At this year’s Adelaide International 1 Noskova came through the qualifying round beating Anna Kalinskaya and Anna Kalinskaya to advance to the main draw. Noskova upset Daria Kasatkina in the first round to achieve her first top 10 win. She went to beat Claire Liu to reach her first WTA 500 quarter final. She beat two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka in a three-set match in the quarter final, winning the tie-break 8-6 after saving a match point. Noskova beat Ons Jabeur to reach her first WTA final where she lost to fresh Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka. As a result, Noskova moved close to 50 positions to number 56.

Noskova needed to play the qualifying round at the Australian Open to join the main draw, but she lost to world number 192 Katherine Sebov. 

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Novak Djokovic ‘Hurt’ By Father’s Absence From Australian Open Final

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Novak Djokovic - Roland Garros 2022 (foto Roberto dell'Olivo)

Novak Djokovic said he mutually agreed with his father that he did not attend his latest Australian Open match but admits it was a bitter pill to swallow. 

 

Srdjan Djokovic had attended his son’s matches throughout the majority of the tournament but has recently been caught up in controversy. On Wednesday a video surfaced on social media of the 62-year-old posing for a photo with pro-Russian supporters with one of the fans waving a flag with the face of Vladimir Putin on it. Another fan was also wearing a t-shirt with the ‘Z’ symbol on it which is used to support the Russian army. 

The Russian and Belarussian flags were banned from the tournament this year following an incident in the first round. A Russian flag was shown during a match between Ukraine’s Kateryna Baindl and Russia’s Kamilla Rakhimova. Prompting anger from Ukraine with its ambassador to Australia calling for a ‘neutral flag’ policy to be implemented. 

Srdjan has since issued a statement saying the incident was ‘unintentional’ and said his family ‘only wish for peace in the world.’ He subsequently also missed Djokovic’s semi-final match to avoid any possible ‘disruption’ before doing the same for Sunday’s final.

“I thought things would calm down in terms of media and everything, but it didn’t. We both agreed it would probably be better that he is not there,” Djokovic said after beating Stefanos Tsitsipas to win a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title
“That hurts me and him (Srdjan) a lot because these are very special, unique moments. Who knows if they repeat again? So it was not easy for him.”

Whilst he was not in the stands, Djokovic was reunited with his father shortly afterwards. Although the tennis star said Srdjan ‘was not feeling his best’ due to the situation. 

“It is what it is. I think in the end also what he told me is that it’s important that I feel good on the court, I win the match, and he’s here for me,” Djokovic continued. 
“If it’s going to be better for me as the outcome of the match so that he’s not in the box, then so be it. That was the whole conversation.’
“In a way, I’m also sad that he was not there, present, in the stands. But he was throughout the entire tournament, so it’s fine. In the end, we have a happy ending.”

Djokovic has now won five out of the past seven Grand Slam tournaments he has played in. At the Australian Open alone he has won 28 matches in a row.

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Australian Open: Facing Tsitsipas For World No. 1 Spot May Be Different for Novak Djokovic

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Image via https://twitter.com/atptour/

It probably was a good thing that Novak Djokovic wasn’t facing a top opponent in the Australian Open semifinals. Certainly not one the caliber of Stefanos Tsitsipas.

 

Of course, Tommy Paul did his best. He just isn’t a top ten caliber player.

The American could rally with Djokovic, but when it came time to win the point or game, he  usually was nowhere to be found on the Rod Laver court.

DJOKOVIC WILL NEED TO BE BETTER

The fact that Tsitsipas is in contention for the No. 1 ranking in men’s tennis is enough to ensure that Paul isn’t quite in the league with the Greek superstar.

Djokovic will need to be better than he was against Paul when he steps onto the court to face Tsitsipas on Sunday night in the Australian Open singles final.

There was Djokovic blundering his way through a one-sided 7-5, 6-1, 6-2 win over Paul. The scoreline should have been closer to 3-1-2. But Novak appeared to have all kinds of physical ailments — legs, knees, bandaged hamstring. Or just plain conditioning and breathing hard. You name it.

NIGHT-TIME DUTY ONCE AGAIN

It was just night time in Melbourne. You wonder what might have happened if Novak had been assigned some daytime duty like everyone else in the tournament. Say, like Tsitsipas had been assigned for his closer than the scores reflex in the Greek’s 7-6 (2), 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-3 win over Karen Khachanov in Friday’s other semifinal.

Tsitsipas is a real threat to claim the world’s top ranking on Sunday night with a victory over the legend from Serbia. Of course, in the 2021 French Open final, Tsitipsas won the first two sets against Djokovic.

It’s possible. Tsitsipas could come through this time.

A SHADOW OF THE OLD NOVAK

Novak was only a shadow of the old Djokovic Friday night. And that was against a player who may never earn a berth in another Grand Slam semifinal.

Of course, Djokovic wasn’t quite as out of it as Rafa Nadal was in the second-round blitzing by Mackenzie McDonald. But Nadal was nursing a hip injury. He may be a different player in Paris in four months.

Djokovic still has all of the big shots and serves he has displayed for much of the last two decades. He just didn’t seem to know where all of those weapons were headed in the semifinals.

IS NOVAK’S BAG OF TRICKS EMPTY?

Of course, if Novak pulls a solid performance out of his bag of tricks and denies Tsitsipas the world’s top ranking, Djokovic likely would stand in Nadal’s path in Paris to a record 23rd Grand Slam singles title.

The task won’t be easy. First, Novak has to take care of business on Sunday night. But with a record-tying 22nd Grand Slam title up for grabs, Djokovic may actually look like himself. 

As Novak says, he wants to be known as the best player in the world.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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