The head of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has cast doubt on an email released by Chinese media attributed to tennis player Peng Shuai.
The tennis star has not been heard from since she made sexual assault allegations against a top Chinese government official two weeks ago.
In the email, Peng purportedly said the allegations are “not true”.
Steve Simon, chairman of the WTA, said the message “only raises” his concerns about Peng’s safety.
“I have a hard time believing that Peng Shuai actually wrote the email we received or believes what is being attributed to her,” said Peng in a statement.
Written in her voice and published by the broadcaster CGTN, the email claims she is not missing or unsafe, adding: “I’ve just been resting at home and everything is fine.”
Many responding on social media have cast doubt on its authenticity – including pointing out that a typing cursor appears to be visible on the screenshot of the email published by CGTN.
Peng had not been heard from since posting an allegation about former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli on Chinese social media site Weibo in early November.
She alleges she was “forced” into sexual relations with Zhang – who served as the country’s Vice Premier between 2013 and 2018 and was a close ally of China’s leader Xi Jinping – in a post that has since been taken down. She has not been seen or heard from publicly since.