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I'm Really Proud of Them: Naomi Osaka Has Praised WTA's Way of Handling Peng Shuai Case

Naomi Osaka hoped Peng and her family “are safe and ok.” (AP Image)

Naomi Osaka hoped Peng and her family “are safe and ok.” (AP Image)

Peng Shuai had alleged on social media in November that former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli forced her into sex during a long-term on-off relationship.

Four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka said Monday that players were eager for news on the fate of Peng Shuai but praised the Women’s Tennis Association’s hardline stance with China.

Peng, a former Wimbledon and French Open doubles champion, alleged on social media in November that former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli forced her into sex during a long-term on-off relationship.

It was the first time that the #MeToo movement had touched China’s ruling Communist Party but Peng’s online post was deleted and her claims censored, then she disappeared from public, only to reappear three weeks later.

However, there remain doubts about how free Peng really is and the women’s tennis tour last month suspended tournaments in China given its “serious doubts” about her safety.

“For me, I haven’t heard any news. I’m not sure if that’s concerning or not,” said Japan’s Osaka, after moving into the second round of the Australian Open.

“But I think the WTA, the whole organisation, they handled it really well. I’m really proud of them.

“I feel like it’s a situation where we need more information, which is definitely really hard. Kind of I think everyone is waiting.”

On Saturday, world number three Garbine Muguruza said she feared the “real truth” about what happened to Peng — who is not in Melbourne — may never be known.

“It seemed like for a moment, okay, we’re going to find out what’s happening,” she said.

“I think it’s going to be very difficult to find a real truth and for her to be able to talk freely.”

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first published:January 17, 2022, 14:35 IST