Days after Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai made sexual assault allegations against former Chinese vice premier Zhang Gaoli and then reportedly went missing, Women's Tennis Association (WTA) called on the Chinese government to look into the matter.

On Nov. 2, the tennis star alleged on her Weibo social media account that Gaoli forced her to have sex with him and they later had an on and off relationship that was consensual, reported The Guardian. In the post, which was soon deleted after it was published, she said that she could not provide any evidence to support her allegations against the former high-ranking official, who was a member of the Politburo Standing Committee, which is top decision-making body in China.

A statement from Steve Simon, WTA Chairman and CEO said that the recent events concerning Shuai, are of "deep concern." He said that as an organization dedicated to women, they remain committed to the "principles they were founded on - equality, opportunity and respect."

According to the statement, Shuai deserves to be heard and not censored, and her accusation about the conduct of a former Chinese leader involving a sexual assault "must be treated with the utmost seriousness." Simon noted that the behavior Shuai alleges happened should not be ignored or condoned, but needs to be investigated. He added that the association expects the matter to be handled properly, meaning the allegations must be investigated "fully, fairly, transparently and without censorship."

The China Tennis Association hasn't commented on the allegations.

Internet in the Asian country is heavily censored and the private lives of top government officials are considered a sensitive subject. Shuai has not been seen since the post, so the global tennis community is concerned about the tennis player, who was the world number one doubles player in 2014. After winning the doubles titles at Wimbledon in 2013 and the French Open in the following year, she became the first player from China to get the top spot.

Simon told the New York Times that the WTA has received assurances from the Chinese Tennis Association and other sources that Shuai is safe and "not under any physical threat" even though no one at the association has talked directly to her.

Shuai Peng
Shuai Peng of China in action during her Women's Singles first round match against Nao Hibino of Japan on day two of the 2020 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 21, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. Photo by Fred Lee/Getty Images

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