Naomi Osaka is a Japanese professional tennis player. She has been ranked No. 1 by the Women’s Tennis Association and the first Asian player to hold the top ranking in singles as well the first player from Japan man or woman to reach No. 1. She is a four-time Grand Slam singles champion and the reigning champion at the Australian Open. Osaka has lived and trained in the United States since age three. On Wednesday, Nov. 17, Osaka took to social media to highlight the search for Shuai who has not been seen since she publicly accused former Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault.
In a Twitter post under the hashtag WhereIsPengShuai. Osaka wrote, Not sure if you’ve been following the news but I was recently informed of a fellow tennis player that has gone missing shortly after revealing that she has been sexually abused. Censorship is never ok at any cost. The 24-year-old Osaka who hasn’t played at tour-level since her U.S. Open title defense ended in a third-round loss in September said she hoped Peng and her family are safe and ok. Other leading players including men’s No. 1 Novak Djokovic and the organizers of the women’s and men’s professional tennis tours have been calling for a full investigation into the allegations made by the two-time Grand Slam doubles champion.
Peng wrote in a lengthy social media post this month that a former vice-premier had forced her to have sex despite repeated refusals. The post was removed from her verified account on Wiebo a leading Chinese social media platform and China’s entirely state-controlled media has suppressed all reporting on the case. Reports of the allegations circulated overseas for more than a week before WTA Chairman and CEO Steve Simon issued a statement saying, Peng Shuai and all women deserve to be heard not censored. Peng won 23 tour-level doubles titles including at Wimbledon in 2013 and the French Open in 2014. She was a semi-finalist in singles at the U.S Open in 2014. Peng hasn’t played at the top tier since the Qatar Open in February of last year before restrictions imposed for the COVID-19 pandemic. Peng also played in three Olympics- 2008, 2012, and 2016 but the International Olympic Committee has remained silent about her allegations.
The IOC and China are organizing the Beijing Winter Olympics starting Feb. 4. Her accusation was the first against a prominent government official since the #MeToo movement took hold in China in 2018 before being largely tamped down by authorities the same year. American player Jessica Pegula tweeted Thursday that she hoped the WTA continues to show what we stand for as players. I hope more people, not just tennis players shed some light on this deeply concerning situation.