Peng Shuai: Chinese tennis star says she was threatened after Australian Open

Image copyright Reuters Image caption The Olympic Committee had not confirmed if she was named in the report

The Chinese Tennis Association has stated in a statement that Peng Shuai is “safe and well”.

The first-round loser at the Australian Open had earlier told the Chinese Olympic Committee (COC) that she had been threatened.

She said she had received death threats via text message and websites after reaching the round of 16 at the January event.

The COC has not named the women cited by Peng in the comments.

When asked for comment, the COC, in a statement on its website, said Peng had notified the committee “several times” about the threats and had “thus deserves full support”.

Although Chinese media reported that she was being listed in the Chinese press for the first time, Peng told BBC News it was only because she had been vocal about the threats, calling for the Chinese authorities to take action to protect her safety.

She said the threats “forced her” to miss the Chinese doubles event at the World Team Championships and the Open Davis Cup.

Peng, 30, currently has a career-high world ranking of 51 in the women’s doubles, but had competed in only one other match before Australia.

The threat had led to Peng’s coach questioning whether she would continue her career, despite the Chinese Tennis Association not requiring her to do so.

Tennis is not sanctioned as an Olympic sport, although the country has five gold medals in the sport.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Peng was one of just seven women in world tennis to enter the Australian Open, despite having been ranked seventh in world tennis this summer

“It has disappointed and scared me and has given me fear,” said Peng, one of just seven women in world tennis to reach the first round in Melbourne.

She tweeted that she could not speak for other athletes, saying “I am a special case”.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The first-round loss came at the hands of unseeded Estonian Anett Kontaveit

“Despite being an Olympic Games player, I have never received threats like this.”

A report to the Australian Olympic Committee by the International Tennis Federation in February 2016 had said that the Games Committee had “provided reports to both the COC and to the CTF”.

The ITF’s head of communications, Stephen Fahey, told reporters that the federation would “not be able to make any further comment on this matter”.

All four remaining women’s singles entries at the Australian Open in January were from China. Four matches were won by the women’s doubles and men’s doubles draws.

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