Tennis superstars Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have at last spoken out about missing Chinese player Peng Shuai and joined the calls for her safety to be confirmed.
The former Wimbledon doubles champion has not been heard from directly in over a fortnight after making allegations of sexual assault against former vice-premier of China Zhang Gaoli on the social media site Weibo.
Fears over her safety and whereabouts continue to grow with even US President Joe Biden saying he was ‘deeply concerned’ by the events and calling on China to provide ‘independent, verifiable’ proof that she is okay.
The tennis world has united in their support for Peng, though a few notable players had not commented until now, with Nadal and Federer – who have 40 Slam titles between them – finally speaking out on the matter.
‘I follow the news and read the articles about Peng Shuai,’ Nadal told L’Equipe on Saturday. ‘Even though I don’t have all the information, the most important thing is that she is okay.
‘All of us in the tennis family hope to see her back with us soon.’
In a separate interview with Sky Italy shortly afterwards, Federer echoed those comments, saying: ‘I hope she is safe. We are all united around her.
‘The tennis tour is my second family. I have been on the pro tour for 20-25 years so I am connected to every ATP and WTA player.’
Wimbledon has also been silent on the situation surrounding Peng, but released a statement on Saturday urging for her wellbeing to be confirmed while they also revealed they had been working the scenes on the issue.
A statement read: ‘We are united with the rest of tennis in the need to understand that Peng Shuai is safe. We have been working in support of the WTA’s efforts to establish her safety through our relationships behind the scenes.
‘Along with the global tennis community, we would like Peng Shuai to know that her wellbeing is of the utmost importance to us, and we will continue to work to gain clarity on her safety.’
There was a fresh twist over the weekend after journalist Shen Shiwei of the Chinese government-controlled broadcaster CCTV released two photos of Peng on Twitter, though there are significant question marks over the legitimacy of the photos.