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Novak Djokovic supports WTA threat to sever ties with China after Peng Shuai’s disappearance


Novak Djokovic said Friday he supports the WTA’s threat to sever lucrative business ties with China if tennis star Peng Shuai remains inexplicable and her sexual assault allegations against a top Communist Party official are not investigated. Talk to reporters after beating Cameron Norrie at the ATP final in Turin, men world number one Djokovic offered his support to Steve Simon, head of the Women’s Tennis Association, who said on Thursday that he was prepared to lose hundreds of millions of dollars’ Chinese business to ensure Peng’s safety.

“I hope she is found and that she is healthy and that everything is right, at least the worst is avoided. I absolutely support the statement of the WTA as an organization and also their president,” said Djokovic, a 20-year-old. former Grand Slam champion. .

“The whole tennis community needs to support her and her family and make sure she’s safe and healthy. Because if you’re holding tournaments on Chinese soil without resolving this situation, it’s going to be a little weird, so I understand why the WTA has taken such a stand. “

Former Wimbledon and French Open doubles champion Peng claimed earlier this month on Chinese social media that former Deputy Prime Minister Zhang Gaoli had “forced” her to have sex and that they had an on-off relationship.

The claims were quickly scrapped from the Twitter-like Weibo platform and the 35-year-old has not been seen since.

Her disappearance led to a flurry of calls for China to announce her whereabouts, including from women tennis icons Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka.

The Professional Tennis Players’ Association, founded by Djokovic, said they would be willing to act if verifiable evidence of Peng’s safety was not provided by China.

“We have to stand together, whether it is a male or female player, whether it is one player or more players who experience something like this, it is necessary and kind of logical that we stand behind our peers to somehow to provide support. , ā€¯Djokovic added.

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“To unite means to come together and find out what action we can take. Not just players, but players with ATP, WTA, but all the governing bodies of our sport and I am really glad that there is an initiated response from both ATP and WTA chairmen because it is appalling.

“I hope for the sake of tennis and for the sake of Chinese tennis that she is found, because it’s terrible.”

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