Peng Shuai says allegations of sexual abuse against former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli were just a misunderstanding.
Last weekend, Shuai made her first public appearance with Chinese basketball player Yao Ming at the International Federation's cross-country skiing competition in Shanghai.
Peng Shuai makes first public appearance, interview
While there, the tennis superstar spoke with reporters, which served as her first time talking about the controversial allegation that she made weeks ago.
But in a shocking twist, Shuai denied ever accusing Gaoli of sexual abuse. She also said that she wrote an email to the Women's Tennis Association and CEO Steve Simon to recent her previous claims.
"I have never spoken or written about anyone sexually assaulting me. First of all, it's my personal privacy. There possibly has been a lot of misunderstanding. Therefore, there should not be such distorted interpretation here," Shuai said via CNN.
During the same interview, Shuai stressed that she has always been free. She also questioned why Chinese authorities would monitor her, according to the BBC.
Claims of censorship continue to persist
However, Shuai's sudden about-face did not end all the worries surrounding the athlete and her safety. After all, there are claims that Chinese authorities must have censored Shuai and threatened her life that's why she was forced to take back the allegations.
Weeks ago, a controversial text message uploaded on Shuai's Weibo account made headlines. It shows her making the allegations against Gaoli. But within seconds, the text message was deleted, and Shuai went missing for two weeks.
She later appeared in a video call with WTA CEO. Shuai revealed that she has been staying at her house in Beijing, but concerns over her safety grew even more.
Women's Tennis Federation still pushing for an investigation
Following Sunday's public appearance and interview, a spokesperson for the WTA said they are happy to see the athlete alive and well. However, Shuai's recent appearance did not alleviate the WTA's concerns about her wellbeing.
On Nov. 2, Shuai posted a lengthy note on her personal Weibo account accusing Gaoli of sexual abuse. She also confirmed that she and Gaoli were in a romantic relationship before.
According to Shuai, Gaoli asked her to go to his house so that they could become intimate with each other.
WTA tournaments in China, Hong Kong suspended
Following her allegations, the WTA decided to suspend all tennis tournaments in China and Hong Kong until they investigate Shuai's allegations.
Simon also released a statement saying that he doesn't think it's fair for their athletes to compete in China and Hong Kong when Shuai isn't allowed to communicate freely regarding her concerns.
The CEO is also convinced that Shuai was forced to contradict her initial allegations against Gaoli to prevent further threats to herself, according to WTA Tennis.
International Tennis Federation cannot suspend their games
On the contrary, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) did not suspend their tournaments in China and Hong Kong because they are the sport's governing body across the globe.
But ITF President David Haggerty said that just like the WTF, they are committed to protecting Shuai and finding a resolution amid the controversy.