Missing Peng Shuai spotted after sex assault claim – but critics unconvinced

Missing tennis star Peng Shuai has been spotted in three separate videos published by Chinese state media, following her recent disappearance.

Shuai reportedly vanished early last week, after claiming that Chinese former senior politician Zhang Gaoli had sexually assaulted her via a post on social media site Weibo.

Following her alleged claims, the 35-year-old had her original post from the popular Chinese social media site deleted along with her recent content, before mysteriously vanishing.

Her disappearance led to widespread concern across the tennis world, as the hashtag #WhereIsPengShuai trended worldwide on Twitter in the hope of locating one of China's major sport stars.

In spite of this, the nation’s state media have shared a number of sightings of the former Wimbledon winner this weekend, however this has only drawn more suspicion.

Most recently the Editor-in-chief of Chinese Hu Xijin media outlet Global Times released a video to Twitter in the early hours of Sunday morning that allegedly showed Shuai in attendance at a Beijing tennis tournament.

Along with the video Xijin tweeted the caption: “Peng Shuai showed up at the opening ceremony of a teenager tennis match final in Beijing on Sunday morning. Global Times photo reporter Cui Meng captured her at scene.”

The video in question appears to show Shuai alongside tournament officials at the event in the Beijing capital, before her name is called out and she waves to the cheering fans.

This clip comes after Xijin had also uploaded two more videos, appearing to show the missing tennis star dining alongside her team in a Beijing restaurant on Saturday.

The initial video showed Shuai talking and smiling alongside her team, before an added clip appeared to show the 35-year-old leaving the restaurant.

The Global Times Editor-in-chief tweeted: “I acquired two video clips, which show Peng Shuai was having dinner with her coach and friends in a restaurant.

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“The video content clearly shows they are shot on Saturday Beijing time.”

Despite the video evidence tennis chiefs are still less than convinced, and continue to worry about Shuai’s freedom and safety.

As a result, WTA chairman Steve Simon issued a statement that said whilst he is ‘glad’ to see the videos of the former Wimbledon champion, he still feels this alone is not enough evidence to show she is ‘free and able to make decisions.’

Simon commented: “I am glad to see the videos released by China state-run media that appear to show Peng Shuai at a restaurant in Beijing.

"While it is positive to see her, it remains unclear if she is free and able to make decisions and take actions on her own, without coercion or external interference. This video alone is insufficient.”

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