Hope she’s safe: Roger Federer voices concern over Peng Shuai's disappearance
- Peng Shuai has been missing since she accused a Chinese politician of sexual assault
- Peng is a two-time Grand Slam champion and former No. 1 in doubles
- "I just want her to be OK," Roger Federer said
Tennis star Roger Federer voiced concern on Saturday over the controversy surrounding the disappearance of Chinese tennis professional Peng Shuai, who has gone missing after accusing a former top Communist Party official of sexually assaulting her.
Peng, a two-time Grand Slam champion and former No. 1 in doubles, made the allegations of sexual assault more than two weeks ago against former vice premier Zhang Gaoli.
"She’s one of our tennis champions, a former world No. 1, and clearly it’s concerning," Federer told Sky Italia. "I hope she’s safe. The tennis family sticks together and I’ve always told my children as well that the tennis family is my second family. I’ve been on tour for 20-25 years and I love the tour, I love the people that are there, (they) are special, the players as well, and she’s one of them."
Tennis players, sports organisations, governments, and human rights activists have all come out in support of Peng, 35, and have sought answers. The 35-year-old former top-ranked player in women’s doubles won titles at Wimbledon in 2013 and the French Open in 2014. Peng also participated in three Olympics, making her disappearance all the more prominent with Beijing set to host the Winter Games starting February 4.
Federer joins the likes of Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka, who have also voiced their concerns for one of China's greatest ever players.
"I’ve been in touch with (ATP Tour) president Andrea Gaudenzi as well the last days, just to get any news, any feedback of the developing story," added Federer, who is working his way back from his latest knee surgery. "I just want her to be OK and that she’s safe and that we hear something hopefully soon."
Peng wrote in a lengthy social media post on November 2 that she was forced to have sex three years ago with Zhang in his home despite repeated refusals. Zhang, 75, is a former vice-premier who was a member of the ruling Communist Party’s all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee.
Meanwhile, China's Foreign Ministry yet again insisted on Friday that it wasn't aware of Peng's disappearance.
With inputs from the Associated Press