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Naomi Osaka says she’s ‘proud’ of the WTA for how it’s handled the Peng Shuai situation in China

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  • Naomi Osaka said she’s “proud” of the way the WTA handled the situation with Peng Shuai and China.
  • Peng accused a top Chinese government official of sexual assault and was subsequently censored.
  • The association suspended tournaments in China over the country’s response to the accusations.

Naomi Osaka is “proud” of the way the Women’s Tennis Association has handled the troubling situation with Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai.

Peng — a 36-year-old whose tennis success has made her a star in China — took to social media in November to accuse a prominent Chinese government official, Zhang Gaoli, of sexual assault. Her posts were removed from the internet shortly after they were published, and she went silent in the following days.

Peng Shuai.

Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai.


Andy Brownbill/AP



Though Chinese officials denied that Peng was missing, fellow tennis stars and Western governments alike expressed concern about her well-being. When state-sanctioned social media posts, video calls with Olympics leaders, and even a six-minute video of Peng herself rectracting the accusations failed to quell fears, the WTA responded by pulling all of its tournaments out of China. 

“I think the WTA — the whole organization — they handled it really well,” Osaka said at the Australian Open. “I’m really proud of them.”

The Japanese superstar added that she hadn’t “heard any news” on Peng at the time of her first-round match at the tournament.

“I’m not sure if that’s concerning or not, but … it’s a situation where we need more information, which is definitely really hard,” Osaka added. “Everyone is waiting.”

Naomi Osaka and Peng Shuai.

Osaka (left) and Peng Shuai.

Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports; Getty/Kevin Lee


At her next press conference, a reporter asked Osaka whether morality or a personal connection to Peng has inspired her to speak out on the issue. The four-time Grand Slam champion replied that “it’s a little bit of both.”

Though the 24-year-old noted that she’s “not the type of player that interacts with” her competitors because she finds it “really hard to come out of my shell,” Osaka said she regularly “would say hi” to Peng when she saw her at tournaments. She also expressed empathy for the two-time Grand Slam doubles champion. 

“If I was in her position, I would want people to care for me, too,” Osaka said. “I imagine myself in her shoes and, in that way, it’s a little bit scary. But you want to lend your voice and you want people to ask the questions.”

Check out Osaka’s full response on Peng from her second-round press conference below:

 

Courtesy By INSIDER

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