China’s top tennis player vows to quit after she claims she was attacked

Although Peng Shuai, China’s top female tennis player, has declined to name the man behind her on-court accusations that he assaulted her during a match on Saturday, Zhang Gaoli, the competitor who Peng alleged assaulted her, responded with a silent promise to sue the two-time grand slam champion for defamation and slander. “This is the worst thing that’s happened to me in my career,” Zhang told reporters, according to the BBC. “I have an Olympic gold medal, three grand slam titles, 10 Australian Open titles. I have won so many tournaments, so if I can win my fight, I will quit tennis completely.”

Peng implied that Zhang had unfairly singled her out as a “victim” while the man she had accused of assaulting her had successfully coached her throughout her career.

Peng said she had given her assailant private coaching advice during a play-off match in Beijing on Saturday — Zhang called the intrusion a “relationship” that had “taken advantage of” her “freedom” to engage in the activity.

When asked whether she had talked to police about her allegations of assault, she said she would take the situation “step by step.” But when asked why she had not done so publicly, she said she was not aware of what to do. “Every time a person is a victim of an act like this, the law is there to protect everyone,” she said.

But Zhang appeared to question whether she had been properly warned, with Guo said to have said he had warned her of his presence at the set-up before the match. “He was there in the run-up to the tournament, he had talked to me a lot, telling me that he wanted to help me.”

Gruenther and Zhang have each played on the women’s tour since 2006. Peng has three Grand Slam titles to her name, three more than Zhang. However, she has made fewer of a mark in China, where she is far less well-known than her male rival. However, on Monday, Peng’s accomplishments were recognized as China’s current tennis number one was sworn in as a member of the country’s parliament.

As part of the ceremony, Peng spoke of making the break with Chinese nationality, so she could continue to represent her country’s interests on the world stage — albeit as a citizen of a neighboring country. “I will soon come back to China but I need to relax a bit,” she said. “This was a very big honor for me. I had high hopes but I’m happy to see that they have gone through. I hope I can help China change.”

Read the full story at The Guardian.


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