Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai has been missing for seventeen days


Peng Shuai is a 35-year-old Chinese woman, a professional tennis player and a major champion, having won the women’s doubles titles at the French Open and Wimbledon. She is one of the brightest stars of tennis and Chinese sports. On November 2, Shuai posted a lengthy statement to Weibo, the Chinese social media platform. Shuai wrote about being raped and sexually abused by a high-ranking Chinese government official named Zhang Gaoli. Her statement was scrubbed from Weibo in less than 30 minutes, and her social media presence was completely scrubbed from the internet.

Since November 2nd, Shuai has not been seen in public. Over the past week, reporting in and out of China indicated that she is missing and that China is likely holding her or punishing her for speaking out. The WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) has issued a series of statements demanding to know Shuai’s whereabouts. WTA’s president has gone on CNN and made public statements demanding that China show visual proof that Shuai is still alive and well. China has not done that. What they did was issue a “statement” in Shuai’s “voice” in which “she” took back her claims of sexual assault and said “she” was fine. The WTA’s president didn’t buy it. No one else did either. In fact, it made everything worse and more frightening.

The whole thing has become an absolutely heartbreaking international incident just months before Beijing is set to host the Winter Olympics. The tennis tour has had an Asian swing, with big-money tournaments in Beijing and Wuhan (those events have been cancelled the past two years because of the pandemic). There is a very real possibility that tennis – and perhaps other sports – could pull out of China if Peng Shuai is not found, and found in good health.

Tennis players (both men and women, remarkably) have been pushing this issue online for a solid week. I’m including some of the many, many tweets from players including Andy Murray, Serena Williams and Alize Cornet (who was the first to use the hashtag #WhereIsPengShuai).


Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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38 Responses to “Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai has been missing for seventeen days”

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  1. Julia K says:

    Happily undergoing an attitude adjustment.

  2. Amy Bee says:

    I think the WTA was extremely slow to react to this matter because of the amount of money they have been getting from China. I would be really surprised if they pulled out of China.

    • Lauren Vail says:

      Steve Simon, the WTA Chairman, was pretty vocal on CNN saying that he was willing to pull out of China. WTA players are also starting to call for them to pull out, spearheaded by French Player Alize Cornet.

      • NotSoSocialB says:

        This is what I came to say. Countries need to start pulling out of the Olympic games ahead of this. It’s the best way to put pressure on China. Those fkrs.

      • Amy Bee says:

        @Lauren: He is now. He wasn’t a few weeks ago. It’s only since players on both tours started speaking about it that he’s become vocal. The WTA twitter tweeted the hastag after Serena spoke about it on twitter yesterday.

      • ThatsNotOkay says:

        I agree with everyone here. We must pull out of the Olympics and all China-hosted sports events (to start) until she is produced and allowed to speak or leave freely. We can create an alternate Olympics for countries that don’t want to support this humanitarian crisis/human rights abuse. Russia pulled out of the 1984 Olympics and created their own for way less of a reason.

    • Lauren Vail says:

      @Amy Bee: I completely agree. They were too slow to react, but his actions now are the right ones.

  3. Driver8 says:

    This is so creepy. Praying she is safe and alive.

  4. Lauren Vail says:

    This story gets scarier by the day. The WTA was delayed in responding, but Steve Simon’s response was very strong and he is continuing to demand tangible evidence that Peng Shuai is safe.

    Honestly, sports bodies and countries need to send a strong message. The WTA needs to pull out of China and I really want countries to boycott the Olympics.

  5. lanne says:

    This is horrifying.

  6. nicegirl says:

    Praying for her safety

  7. Coco says:

    This reminds me off when Fan Bingbing when “missing” , hopefully Peng is ok.

    • Christina says:

      That first came to my mind, too.

      These are successful, accomplished Chinese women who are being vanished on a whim. Imagine what it is like for the other women who suffer sexual violence.

      My heart goes out to Peng Schuai and her family.

    • Nina says:

      Fan Bingbing was never missing lol. She was just “missing” from social media and events because she was literally embroiled in a tax evasion controversy. She even launched a successful makeup brand while “missing”. She is currently making a comeback. Reading the comments here really shows that some of you really need to start fact-checking. I’m far from being pro-china but some of these things reported by western media can be so easily debunked. Comparing Peng Shuai’s situation to Fan Bingbing is kinda???

  8. dina says:

    This is horrifying to hear 🙁 I hope she is found soon, safe and healthy.

  9. Royalle says:

    I hope the public keeps pressing and pressing this issue and that she is released . They probably physically hurt her to the point where she can no longer play 🙁 poor woman

  10. rea says:

    This is the future for anyone in other countries if we continue to let bullies get away with bullying.

  11. Jedi says:

    Boycott Beijing. After the horrible hostage situation of the two Michaels here in Canada, I am firmly in the boycott camp for the Winter Olympics. It’s not a safe place for athletes or anyone to travel to under the CCP. The government has no issue with hostage diplomacy or disappearing its own people.

    • The Recluse says:

      And they are increasingly going after people in other countries to silence them or disappear them as well. There was a whole article about that in either WAPO or a magazine. And then there is what they are doing to the Tibetans and Ughyers (sp?). They’re currently threatening all of their neighbors in international waters and Taiwan’s autonomy. There are so many reasons to boycott China and its Olympic games, which it should never have received in the first place.

      • Sal says:

        Yes, we need to boycott the olympics. They disappear people and they are getting too much power. It’s outrageous that Disney made an American actor issue an apology for calling Taiwan a country.

  12. Barbie1 says:

    Horrifying situation. The Chinese govt can get away with anything. No one can stop them.

  13. Liz version 700 says:

    If they will do this to her imagine what happens in those camps. It is horrible.

  14. Miranda says:

    Do the Chinese officials really think that they’re convincing anyone with that message from “Peng”? The screenshot showed the damn CURSOR, and while I know that non-native speakers often speak English in a somewhat more formal tone, it sounded almost like a business letter. When it’s that obvious, I have to think that they just don’t care if anyone believes them. They’re powerful enough to do what they want without consequences.

    There definitely needs to be a boycott. “Sportswashing” is getting ridiculous, with countries like China, Russia, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia being allowed to host major events in spite of their well-known human rights violations. The world has opened up enough that there are certainly enough venues to host the Olympic events. But I think we all know that these sporting organizations (the IOC, FIFA, FIA, etc.) don’t really care enough to take a stand.

    ETA: I also want to share this article from BBC, about the aftermath of a poorly planned ultramarathon in China earlier this year, which lead to 21 deaths. The government is threatening survivors who try to speak out.

  15. Willow says:

    Her family is also missing. China is scary. She might reappear. But this isn’t tax evasion, like the actress. She accused a high official, close friend of Xi, of a serious crime. I’m really afraid for her life. I hope everyone keeps the pressure on.

  16. goofpuff says:

    I’m afraid if we do see her, it will be because she had no choice because her family’s life was threatened. I’m sure they are all being abused right now.

    Everyone needs to remember that THIS is what the US (republicans) and the UK (the brexits) are trying to go. This is the facism they secretly worship.

  17. Sof says:

    It’s really scary, if this is happening to a top athlete was is going on with those unknown, voiceless people?
    And China getting away with everything because no one is powerful enough to stop them makes it worse. How many international treaties do they violate?

    • The Recluse says:

      They disappeared the Panchen Lama and his parents over two decades ago and no one knows what happened to them. It’s assumed that they are being held in permanent captivity and that the child was raised to be a good Chinese citizen instead of a Tibetan lama. Amnesty International called him the world’s Youngest Prisoner of Conscience.

  18. Jelena Šalipur says:

    I raised petition for Peng Shuai to be freed

  19. Chanteloup says:

    Commenting to promote this story that needs to be front page everywhere

  20. popsicle says:

    Sincerely worried about her.

  21. lucy2 says:

    This is terrifying. I hope she and her family survive this and are somehow able to get to safety.

  22. Bo Peep says:

    For anyone hoping to read Peng Shuai’s post in her own words, here’s a complete English translation:

    (original Chinese text here:

    • Willow says:

      I just read it. Just awful. What he did, to her and his wife. How his wife treated her. She wrote ‘I know saying this is like throwing eggs against a stone.’ So hopeless. But you are right. Important that we read her message, so at least China cannot stop that.

      • Bo Peep says:

        @willow It’s so awful. The coercion to become his mistress, how she had no say in being chosen and being discarded.

        Not entirely related, but Xi Jinping’s latest media crackdown is truly terrifying, from China’s celebrities to their authors to their video games to their college clubs. Lgbtq safe spaces for adolescents are being targeted. Everything in one fell swoop. People who think popular Chinese media exports are “Chinese propaganda” don’t know that Xi doesn’t care about building China’s soft power, he only cares about himself.

        A lot of people outside of China think that everyone in the country is extremely patriotic and nationalistic, that they don’t know or care about what their government is doing to their own people or minorities, but that’s not true. There are actually online platforms where Han Chinese and Uyghurs discuss what’s going in Xinjiang on the down-low for example. Not everyone buys the propaganda. But they’ll never directly say so in public, and they’ll repost patriotic posts in their friends’ circles, because there’s so much fear.

        After seeing what happened in my family, I think it’s very common to see where even a minor dispute with authority can land you, your friends, or your neighbors (the answer is always loss of employment or jail, maybe both)

  23. Abby says:

    This is really scary. I hope she is ok and they find her.

    I hate that the olympics are going to be held there. I love the Olympics. I have no desire to watch them in China with everything that has happened even just in the last few years. And as an athlete I would be scared to go there!

    • Jennifer says:

      I sadly don’t think it’s a question of finding her. More like see if it’s possible to unearth her from the oubliette they probably threw her into 🙁

      It’s really irritating that China got the Olympics, though most countries don’t want them any more. I don’t think we should be there but I feel bad for the athletes if they don’t go…hell, I don’t know.

  24. Selena says:

    Ummm…we kinda already knew about their gross human rights abuses while planning the Olympics. Tragic for her.