WTA chairman and CEO Steve Simon suspects an email sent to him alleging to be from missing tennis player Peng Shuai looks fake.
Peng, 35, had accused 75-year-old Zhang Gaoli of alleged sexual coercion in a post uploaded to Chinese microblogging website Weibo earlier this month.
Since the post, which was quickly deleted, she has not been seen. World tennis stars Naomi Osaka, Novak Djokovic and many others have expressed their concerns over her safety.
Osaka ‘proud’ of WTA handling of Peng situation but insists ‘we need more information’
On Wednesday, Chinese state media China Global Television Network (CGTN) published an email on Twitter suggesting the message to Simon from Peng confirmed she is safe.
But Simon has publicly responded saying the email he received only makes him more concerned about her safety.
"The statement released today by Chinese state media concerning Peng Shuai only raises my concerns as to her safety and whereabouts," the statement reads.
"I have a hard time believing that Peng Shuai actually wrote the email we received or believes what is being attributed to her.
"Peng Shuai displayed incredible courage in describing an allegation of sexual assault against a former top official in the Chinese government.
"The WTA and the rest of the world need independent and verifiable proof that she is safe. I have repeatedly tried to reach her via numerous forms of communication, to no avail.
"Peng Shuai must be allowed to speak freely, without coercion or intimidation from any source. Her allegation of sexual assault must be respected, investigated with full transparency and without censorship.
"The voices of women need to be heard and respected, not censored nor dictated to."
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