The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has reiterated its concerns for Peng Shuai following her recent denial of ever alleging sexual assault.
The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) says Peng Shuai's latest interview about her sexual assault allegations "does not alleviate" its concerns.
Peng a 1,600-word essay on Chinese social platform Weibo where she accused former Chinese Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli of forcing her to have sex with him in November.
The social media post was swiftly deleted and the player then disappeared for weeks.
However, in a recent in-person interview Peng said she never alleged sexual assault.
"I would like to know: why such concern?... I never said anyone sexually assaulted me,"
she told L'Equipe.
L'Equipe had to submit questions in advance, and the interview was conducted at the Winter Olympics under the presence of a representative from China's Olympic Committee who also translated her comments from Chinese.
She told L'Equipe interview the post had "given rise to a huge misunderstanding from the outside world".
Peng also told the outlet she was living a normal life - a line which has also been used by Chinese state officials about her previously.
She also expressed thanks for the concern directed towards her.
The 36-year-old sporting star also hinted she could retire from professional tennis.
The WTA's chief executive and chairman Steve Simon added:
"To reiterate our view, Peng took a bold step in publicly coming forth with the accusation that she was sexually assaulted by a senior Chinese government leader.”
"As we would do with any of our players globally, we have called for a formal investigation into the allegations by the appropriate authorities and an opportunity for the WTA to meet with Peng, privately, to discuss her situation.”
"We continue to hold firm on our position and our thoughts remain with Peng Shuai."
The player has been in attendance at the Beijing Winter Olympics, and on Tuesday watched her compatriot Eileen Gu win gold in the women's big air event.
The International Olympic Committee also said its president, Thomas Bach, had dinner with Peng on Saturday.
Bach had been one of the first to vouch for her safety after she disappeared in 2021 and the pair held a video call when there were concerns over her whereabouts and wellbeing. (BBC Sport)