WTA declined comment Tuesday on the reported disappearance of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, with the organization’s CEO saying she is “still reported to be in the territory of China.”
Hai Yongkeng (HT: ZUMA Press), the head of publicity at the WTA, says the WTA has spoken to officials in the Tennis Association of China about Peng’s disappearance.
The Australian Associated Press reported on Saturday that China’s tennis federation has lost contact with Peng, who has not responded to numerous phone calls made to her mobile phone.
Hai called Peng “one of the LTA’s best young players and has been included in the China national team.”
Peng was listed as the lone Chinese in the women’s doubles draw at the U.S. Open. She finished the year as the top-ranked doubles player in the world, according to the WTA.
Neither Peng or the WTA have commented on the situation, although the WTA spokeswoman was quoted as saying last week that Peng has “an open invitation to stay with the WTA any time she wishes.”
The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Jamie Stosur, a former top-five women’s singles player, as saying Peng “fills a huge gap on the tour. She’s so creative.”
Peng is the most recognizable Chinese tennis player, with marketing campaigns supporting her that cover both singles and doubles.
The United States and Australian governments have condemned Peng’s reported disappearance.
The Australian federal government’s former anti-doping chief, Aurora Andruska, said there is a black mark on tennis that Peng’s disappearance could tarnish.
Andruska said the Tennis Association of China should conduct an investigation and offer a fair outcome.
Brazilian tennis star Ana Ivanovic reportedly reached out to Peng after she went missing from the WTA tour.
The New York Times reported that both Ivanovic and Peng’s agent, John Tobias, said they had not received any contact from the tennis star’s team since Friday.
Tobias added that Pare’s father, who lives in the United States, told him the family is “concerned” about Peng’s disappearance and that an investigation is underway.
The Tennis Association of China has not responded to repeated requests for comment on Peng’s disappearance.
Tennis players, including former Wimbledon champ Marion Bartoli, are urging the Chinese government to help locate Peng.
“Women’s tennis is filled with amazing players that inspire millions of people,” Bartoli tweeted. “To hear of @panshuai ‘s disappearance is truly devastating. I hope she is okay & loved dearly. #unitedwinedom,”
FBI investigators have been called in to aid in finding the 33-year-old Peng, who also played in the U.S. Open in 2009 and 2010.
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