Peng Shuai: Chinese tennis star stands by sexual assault allegation

Peng Shuai, the woman who stands accused of sexual assault, has apologised to the US Open, tennis’ top tournament, and tournament officials.

Peng is standing down from all competition at the French Open, Russia’s WTA Open, and Hong Kong Open.

Earlier she was withdrawn from three tournaments.

So far, Pu says she has been denied the presumption of innocence but maintains her innocence.

The allegation against her is that, in January, she went up to an unidentified male spectator at the Family Circle Cup in Charleston, South Carolina, and kissed him.

Peng is part of an exclusive 18-man group of top Chinese women who achieve the ranking of WTA No 5.

The Chinese Tennis Association said she denies any wrongdoing and has been put on “indefinite leave of absence” from all professional competitions and training activities.

“I admit that something happened to me at the US Open on 2 September,” she said on her Facebook page.

“I have the utmost respect for the country of USA, its people and its sporting culture. I apologise to US Open for damaging its reputation.”

In June, two women, who wished to remain anonymous, alleged that they were raped by Shuai after meeting at a nightclub. The first woman, who is in her mid-20s, was then dismissed by a representative of the tournament promoter who said “she was drinking too much and doing drugs”.

The second woman’s initial complaint was initially rejected, with an official of the US Open saying that the tournament could not investigate because the festival was not running.

Peng: “I admit that something happened to me at the US Open on 2 September”

Despite the decision, police declined to close the investigation. In response, Shuai filed a lawsuit in a Hong Kong court against the US Open, asking for a new trial.

In one of the new lawsuits, a model asked that the other had “fought for equal pay” during a shoot and remarked, “I hope you get raped for a living”.

The woman wrote to Pu asking for a photo shoot after she was dismissed for her being an “alcoholic” who has “found many ways to get drunk”, according to the court documents.

The model had not told the US Open that she had been a waitress when she entered the festival’s premises for the first time, and therefore, Pu, who claimed she was an umpire who will “not tolerate any other faking of qualifications”, wrote her to say that the festival would no longer be in touch.

However, Pu’s reply to the model, published by the Associated Press (AP), said “As a umpire, I am charged with letting players play according to the rules of the game and every player comes with his own schedule and unfortunately some men have their own agenda of mind games”.

In the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) statement released later, P says it had investigated the claims made by the women and found them “credible”.

WTA CEO Steve Simon, who visited Beijing to meet Pu, said it “not only takes sexual harassment allegations seriously, but it sets an aggressive set of standards”.

The women’s tour chief also said in the statement that she does not “wish to discuss the specifics of this matter”.

In an unrelated statement to BBC World Service, Peng said that she had “already made amends for the situation by being emotionally and physically well. I cannot afford any further misunderstandings”.

However, fellow Chinese sports stars appear to have condemned Pu’s actions.

In 2011, a British television programme showed Peng’s daughter crying as she was knocked out of the women’s junior world championship at the hands of Briton Katie Swan, who went on to become a Grand Slam semi-finalist.

Peng defended her actions, and denied that she had ever assaulted Swan.

Tennis authorities have decided not to act against Peng – other than her suspension from the French Open and Hong Kong Open.

And so far the WTA and the International Tennis Federation (ITF) have refused to comment to the press on Peng’s actions.

Peng also wrote on her Facebook page: “I am determined to stand by my word and remain confident in my innocence, and will continue to fight my case in the court of law.”

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