Speed Reads


Tennis player Peng Shuai denies accusing Chinese official of sexual assault: 'A huge misunderstanding'

Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai told a French newspaper on Sunday it is her "wish" that people stop twisting a social media post she made last year accusing a high-ranking Chinese official of sexual assault, calling it "an enormous misunderstanding."

Peng's interview with L'Equipe was conducted in Beijing, with a Chinese Olympic Committee representative translating. The questions had to be submitted ahead of time, L'Equipe said, and Peng's answers printed verbatim. This was the 36-year-old's first interview with non-Chinese media since she posted and quickly deleted the accusation in November, The Associated Press reports.

The allegation was posted on Peng's verified account on Weibo, a Chinese social media platform. She wrote that Zhang Gaoli, a former vice premier and member of the powerful Politburo Standing Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, forced her to have sex with him. After the post was taken down, Peng disappeared from public view, sparking concerns about her wellbeing.

When asked about what she posted, Peng told L'Equipe, "Sexual assault? I never said that anyone made me submit to a sexual assault. This post resulted in an enormous misunderstanding from the outside world." She also said she "erased" the post, adding, "Why? Because I wanted to."

Peng did not respond to a query about whether the post got her in trouble with the Chinese government. L'Equipe also asked about how her life has been since November, and Peng responded, "It is as it should be: Nothing special."