The WTA boss expressed increased concern for Peng Shuai’s welfare after an alleged letter from the Chinese player appeared in the state media.
Peng, a former world number one double, has not been heard since she made sexual assault allegations against China’s former vice-premier two weeks ago in a post on the Weibo social media platform.
The post was quickly removed and concerns about Peng are growing. Naomi Osaka is among those who use social media to raise awareness about the situation.
The letter on the China Global Television Network Europe Twitter page, which the broadcaster claimed was sent by Peng to WTA Chairman and CEO Steve Simon, read: “Regarding the latest news that came on WTA official website, the content has not been confirmed or verified by me and released without my consent.
“The news in this press release, including allegations of sexual assault, is not true. I am neither missed nor unsure. I just got a rest at home and everything is fine. Thank you again for looking after me. “
The WTA released a strong statement on Sunday calling for an investigation into Peng’s allegations while telling the New York Times that the issue could jeopardize the future of the tour in China despite the huge sums of money.
Simon wrote on Wednesday, “The statement on Peng Shuai released today by Chinese state media only raises my concerns about her safety and whereabouts.
“I find it hard to believe that Peng Shuai actually wrote the email we received, or believes what is being attributed to her.
“Peng Shuai showed incredible courage when describing a sexual assault allegation against a former top official in the Chinese government. The WTA and the rest of the world need independent and verifiable evidence of their safety.
“I have tried repeatedly to reach them through a variety of means of communication with no success. Peng Shuai must be allowed to speak freely without coercion or intimidation from any source.
“Your allegation of sexual assault must be respected, investigated with full transparency and without censorship. Women’s voices need to be heard and respected, not censored or dictated. “