MELBOURNE : France’s Alize Cornet said she is still worried about Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai and that she wants more clarity regarding the former doubles world number one’s situation.
Peng’s wellbeing became a matter of concern among the global tennis community and rights groups when she appeared to allege that a former Chinese vice premier, Zhang Gaoli, had sexually assaulted her in the past.
The Women’s Tennis Association suspended tournaments in China due to concerns over her safety and said her public appearances did not address or alleviate concerns about her safety.
Peng then said last month she had never accused anyone of sexually assaulting her, and that a social media post she had made had been misunderstood.
Zhang has not commented on the matter.
“I’m still a little bit worried about her,” Cornet said after her first-round loss to Naomi Osaka in the Melbourne Summer Set on Tuesday.
“I have to say that this situation still makes me feel uncomfortable, and I don’t know how she’s doing.
“I really don’t know what to think about it anymore. I don’t know where is the truth and where are the lies.”
Cornet was one of the first players to show her support for Peng under the hashtag #WhereIsPengShuai and a host of current and former players, including Osaka, Serena Williams and Billie Jean King, joined the calls seeking to confirm she was safe.
“I’m really happy that all these people followed me and the turn it took was really unexpected, like the reaction of (WTA chief executive) Steve Simon and everything that followed was really, really huge,” said Cornet.
“I’m not sure that it changes something (for Peng). It’s tough to know what the effect was on her situation. It’s not very clear … I’m just hoping for the best and hoping that she’s fine. I feel I don’t have the power to do something more.”
(Reporting by Hritika Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)