Serena Williams spoke out about her grief and shock at the loss of Peng Shuai, a Chinese tennis player. 

Shuai (35), who once was ranked the best female double’s player worldwide, has been missing since being accused of rape by the former vice-premier. 

Williams (40), a 23-time Grand Slam champion called for the authorities to investigate Shuai’s disappearance.

The following tweet was sent by her: Wednesday’s Tweet from Peng Shuai: I am shocked and devastated to learn about Peng Shuai’s death. I pray that she’s safe and is found quickly.

“This needs to be investigated. And we cannot remain silent. This is my condolences to her and her entire family.

The email was published by Chinese state media in English after Peng claimed that it was an English-language message. In the email, Peng stated that he had not disappeared and that he is safe. It’s fine, everything seems to be okay. 

Steve Simon (head of Women’s Tennis Association) stated that he finds it hard to believe Peng had sent him the email. It ‘only raises questions about her safety and whereabouts’.

Simon said that nobody from the WTA has been in direct contact with Peng since she accused 75-year-old Communist party official Zhang Gaoli of coercing her into sex on Chinese social media two weeks ago. 

23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, 40, publicly called on the authorities to launch an investigation into Shuai's disappearance and urged those involved to 'not stay silent'

Serena Williams (40), a 23-time Grand Slam champion, called for an investigation into Shuai’s disappearance. She urged all those involved not to remain silent.

Serena Williams has tweeted of her 'devastation and shock' as she urged an investigation into the disappearance of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai

Serena Williams tweeted her shock and devastation at the loss of Peng Shuai, a Chinese tennis player.

Peng Shuai

Peng Shuai

Peng Shuai (35) is a Chinese tennis superstar who hasn’t been seen since November 2, when she made a post on social media accusing senior Communist officials of sexual abuse.

Fears grew for her safety Wednesday as Chinese state media published what they claimed was an email written by her saying 'I've just been resting at home and everything is fine'

As Chinese media reported that she had sent an email to herself, claiming it was her personal message and that everything was fine at her home, fears grew about her safety.

Social media users were quick to point out oddities with the 'email', including that it is addressed to 'everyone' despite allegedly being a private message and that a typing cursor appears to be flashing in the middle of the message - suggesting it is open in a word processor

Users of social media quickly pointed out the oddities in the “email”, including the fact that the email is addressed to everyone despite it being private and the flashing cursor in the middle. This suggests that the message is in a word processing program.

“The Chinese state media statement regarding Pengshuai today only raised my concerns about her safety and whereabouts,” he stated.

“I find it difficult to believe that Peng Shuai wrote the email or accepts what she is claiming.

CTGN publishes an email that reads: “Hello everyone, Peng Shuai.

“Regarding the latest news on the WTA’s official website, the content was not confirmed by me and I gave my express consent for it to be published.”

Peng claimed to have been involved in a ten-year affair with Zhang Gaoli (pictured), saying he sexually assaulted her in 2018

Peng claimed to have been involved in a ten-year affair with Zhang Gaoli (pictured), saying he sexually assaulted her in 2018

The news contained in the release, which includes sexual assault allegations, are false. I’m safe and not missing. All is well at my home, as I have been relaxing.

“Thanks again for taking care of me.

If the WTA has any additional news on me, please check it out with me. I will then give my consent. You are all a great tennis player.

“I would like to work with all of you in China tennis promotion, if given the opportunity.” Chinese tennis can only get better.

“Once again, we are grateful for your consideration.”

Many social media users pointed out the oddities in this email. Peng opened ‘hello everybody’, even though it was apparently a private message addressed to Simon.

The typing cursor is also visible in one sentence. This suggests that the email is actually a screenshot that was taken from an open document in a word process. 

Advocacy group Chinese Human Rights Defenders added that the email ‘should not be taken at face value’, and that the Chinese state has a history of arbitrarily detaining people who implicate the government or its officials in wrongdoing.

Peng disappeared suddenly, prompting calls from other tennis players and Naomi Osaka from Japan to get information.

Peng first made headlines on November 2 when she uploaded a lengthy post to her personal Weibo account – China’s version of Facebook – accusing Zhang of coercing her into sex during a years-long affair.  

Peng, who is married to Zhang, revealed in this blog post that they had been involved in an ongoing affair since 2011, when Peng met Zhang in Tianjin. Zhang was the premier of the city at the time.

It is detailed how Peng was able to have sex with Zhang at least once in that same year.

He allegedly revived the relationship in 2018 following his retirement. Peng was invited to dinner by Peng with his wife, after which Peng pressured Peng into sexual relations. 

Peng remembers “crying” and refusing Zhang’s advances before finally relenting. 

Peng claimed that this started a three year affair which Peng described as unpleasant.

Peng made the allegation in a lengthy social media post on Weibo which was quickly deleted before her account was heavily censored

Peng claimed the allegations in an extensive social media posting on Weibo. Her account was then heavily censored.

Peng is a household name in China after becoming the first Chinese woman to rank No.1 in doubles, and is currently ranked 14th

Peng has become a well-known name in China. Peng was No.1 among doubles players in China and currently is 14th.

Zhang demanded that it be kept secret, and she admitted in the post that there was no proof of her affair.

Her post concluded: ‘You’ve said you are not afraid. 

“But even as an eggs thrown at rocks, or a moth to the flame of self-destruction, you will hear me speak truth with them.

It’s not obvious why she decided to tell the truth now. 

Zhang was a vice-premier in Beijing and served on the ruling party’s powerful seven-member standing committee of the political bureau.

Peng, who was ranked the No.1 player in China in doubles in 2014 by the Women’s Tennis Association is an international celebrity.

She currently ranks 14th on the global rankings.

The Chinese government closely monitors Weibo and takes down the post within twenty minutes.

Peng’s profile looked temporarily disabled. It was also not appearing in site searches.

Later, the profile reappeared. However, Peng had removed the inflicting post and disabled comments for all his other posts. 

Weibo users were prohibited from posting any information about Peng, Zhang or the alleged affair. Chinese search terms for keywords like “tennis” were also disabled temporarily on Chinese websites.  

The foreign ministry of China has denied any knowledge and Zhang also has not replied to inquiries for comment.

 Lv Pin, a Chinese activist for women’s rights, tweeted shortly after the post was revealed: ‘They [the CCP]They have been decadent and rotten since childhood.

They’ve always been exploiting women, but it’s only that it’s been done behind black curtains.

‘Her revelation is very important, for it lets people get a glimpse of the real life of China’s highest leaders, their excessive abuse of power, corruption and their fear behind a moral façade wrapped in power.’