Report: Wimbledon Silences Supporters of Vanished Chinese Tennis Star Peng Shuai

FILE - China's Peng Shuai reacts during her first round singles match against Japan's Nao
AP Photo/Andy Brownbill, File

Wimbledon has reportedly told supporters of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai that they are not welcome to wear t-shirts, hold signs, or talk to the media about the player who vanished from sight after accusing a high Chinese official of rape.

It appears that Wimbledon has bowed to demands from China’s communist rulers to ban supporters of Peng Shuai from the stadium.

Tennis great Martina Navratilova was outraged by the ban on support for the Chinese player and took to Twitter to blast the British tennis organization.

Navratilova added that this sort of censorship is typical for China and Russia but not for the UK.

“We didn’t have these on when we came in because we worried about not being let in,” said Jason Leith of the Free Tibet organization. “So we put them on, and we were just walking around, and a few people wanted selfies with us, so we were taking pictures with people,” Leith said.

“(They) started asking, ‘Are you planning to do any direct protesting? Are you planning on disrupting things?’ And then they asked, ‘Oh, do you mind coming over here so we can search your bags?’

“So then they started going through our bags. I guess they were looking for flags. They were looking for anything that might be used in any other form of protest.”

Leith claims that he and his group were allowed to stay as long as they didn’t speak to Peng Shuai about anyone.

Shuai rocked the tennis world last year with her accusations.

Early in November 0f 2021, Shuai posted a message to her Chinese social media account saying that she had been sexually abused in 2019 by Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli. But her Weibo account was quickly shut down, and the post was deleted. Shuai then spent nearly a month in isolation, not being publicly seen on her own for more than three weeks.

By the next month, after being weeks out of the public eye, she suddenly re-appeared and claimed she never meant to accuse anyone of sexual misconduct.

Since that time, Shuai has only appeared in government-controlled and sanctioned appearances, and few feel she has since had an opportunity to speak openly. Peng Shuai is a former Wimbledon doubles champion.

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