China’s former top-ranked tennis player Peng Shuai was last heard from on Sunday morning but videos on social media appearing to show the 30-year-old failing to appear at a scheduled event raised questions about her whereabouts and potential whereabouts.
The Hong Kong-based Ming Pao newspaper and Japan’s Asahi newspaper said she was in Shanghai. AFP did not verify the reports. Reuters was unable to immediately locate her team or her agent for comment.
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After Peng lost to Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in the round of 16 at the Doha Open, where neither would comment on what may have happened to her, the Russian-born Chinese player said on her social media accounts: “We are doing everything in order to bring her back safely to Hong Kong. Thanks for everyone’s concern.”
In apparent footage of a car leaving the event, Peng was reported missing by a post on Chinese social media.
In another, shown on Chinese social media, she can be seen meeting a lost child before she left the event for the airport, apparently on her way to China.
She had to call in the forfeit when she lost to Schmiedlova, Peng said in an interview with sports portal PlayersEdge.
It is not uncommon for top-ranked players to withdraw during their events – for whatever reason – and then to not say where they are or come back.
But the decision to stay silent while heading to the airport could be seen as risky given how internet users rapidly find out what is going on in the private lives of top players.
Peng’s brother in Qatar, Neluan Puang, sent an alert to news portals on Tuesday asking for help in locating Peng.
“My sister has disappeared. Please help!” he wrote on the TsingTo.com website.
In comments that were deleted later, Puang questioned why Peng could not be transported from Doha to China, citing the lack of reliable service in Qatar.
Tennis authorities have no laws in China that hold them responsible for a player’s whereabouts.
Tseng Chin, a former athlete for the International Tennis Federation in China, said: “In China, there are no emergency protocols in place.
“When a player has an issue with their flight, they are not obliged to file an emergency travel plan. Some players just make their own arrangements.”