Chinese tennis star's 'email' fuels concerns

Concerns are growing further about Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai after a Chinese state-run media outlet released an email that it says was written by herself.

Peng has not been seen in public since reportedly claiming in a social media post that former Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli sexually abused her, and they later had an extramarital relationship.

The media outlet on Thursday posted on Twitter the email written in her name to the Women's Tennis Association. The WTA previously called for an investigation into the allegations.

The message, written in English, says the WTA's news release, including the allegation of sexual assault, "is not true." It also says that "I'm not missing, nor am I unsafe. I've just been resting at home and everything is fine."

WTA Chairman and CEO Steve Simon released a statement in response.

Simon says the email released by the Chinese state media "only raises my concerns as to her safety and whereabouts."

He says it is hard to believe that Peng actually wrote the email, adding, "The WTA and the rest of the world need independent and verifiable proof that she is safe."

He also added, "Her allegation of sexual assault must be respected, investigated with full transparency and without censorship."

The email post has triggered a wave of social media comments doubting its credibility.

Peng has won many doubles titles, including at Wimbledon in 2013. Zhang was a member of the Chinese Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee until 2017.