Written by Staff Writer
Editor’s Note — This story has been updated to reflect the response from WTA’s International Tennis Federation.
A day after a viral video went viral showing the Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai putting her bat to her head in reaction to what she claimed was “unnatural violence” against her, the top-ranked player in Asia has denied ever showing off her prowess with a ball.
Peng was one of 10 players released earlier this month from the WTA’s player council due to unfair practices in tennis, which she claimed had involved the “indiscriminate distribution of players’ ranking points and tournament fees.”
Her statements were initially backed by the WTA, before it later retracted support. Following the video’s airing on Chinese TV channel KanKan, Peng then received death threats on social media
This week, Anne Worcester, CEO of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), has called the video “insufficient” evidence to say her starlet player “was engaged in any violence.”
“We do not believe the video evidence supports the claim she showed her bat out of any aggressive intent,” Worcester told CNN.
“Peng demonstrated the bat in a defensive manner, in response to unsporting behavior.”
Worcester added that WTA has “never provided her with a bat” and has “never utilized any other bat” in relation to issues with Shanghai’s Wuhan Sports Center, who are sponsoring Peng’s run in the Wuhan Open event, which she won in 2015.
— Nathaniel Rich, courtesy CNN