Peng Shuai, the doubles champion who bothers Beijing

Chinese tennis champion Peng Shuai, who has not been heard from since she implicated a former regime leader in a sex scandal, has won the doubles Wimbledon and Roland Garros two years in a row.

Born in 1986 in Xiangtan, in the province of Hunan (center), into a family whose father is a police officer, she was introduced to tennis at the age of 8 by her uncle Zhang Fan, a former coach.

At 12, despite her family’s fears, she insisted on undergoing an operation to correct a heart defect “because I love tennis so much”, the player later explained.

At the age of 15, she studied alone in the United States, equipped with a simple electronic translation device.

Doubles champion

By winning in doubles Wimbledon in 2013, then Roland-Garros the following year, Peng Shuai becomes a star of the sport in his country.

Also in 2014, she remained world number one in doubles for 20 weeks and reached the zenith of her singles career by reaching the semi-final at Flushing Meadows.

In all, she won twenty-three WTA doubles and two singles titles in her career, pocketing some $ 10 million in awards.

At 35, Peng Shuai is now ranked 191st in doubles in the world but has not played in a WTA tournament since early 2020 in Qatar.

Six month suspension

In 2018, she received a six-month suspension and a $ 10,000 fine for trying to force her doubles partner, Hsieh Su-wei, with whom she won Wimbledon and Roland Garros, to withdraw from the London tournament. the previous year.

Peng Shuai is accused of resorting to “intimidation and attempted bribery” against her partner. The two women will however replay together in doubles.

Sex scandal

On November 2, 2021, Peng Shuai accuses on the social network Weibo (the Chinese equivalent of Twitter) a former vice-prime minister, Zhang Gaoli, of having forced him to have sex three years earlier.

She specifies that she then became the mistress of the former leader, until an argument a few days earlier.

AFP was unable to determine whether the message was actually written by Peng Shuai. It was in any case censored a few minutes after being broadcast, the time however for thousands of Chinese to read it and circulate screenshots, promptly censored in turn.

Global concern

Since these accusations, we remain without news of the champion, to the point of arousing the concern of many stars of world tennis, from the dean Chris Evert to number one, Novak Djokovic, through Naomi Osaka.

Chinese state media on Wednesday released a message attributed to the player on Twitter in which she said her accusations against Mr. Zhang “are false.”

Steve Simon, the boss of the WTA, the association that manages the women’s professional tennis circuit, said he doubted the authenticity of the message and asked Beijing for “independent and verifiable proof” that Peng Shuai is safe.

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Peng Shuai, the doubles champion who bothers Beijing