Former World No. 1 on the WTA Tour, Maria Sharapova recently spoke about the ongoing case of doubles Grand Slam champion Peng Shuai whose safety is believed to be compromised after the Chinese player accused the Chinese Communist Party’s Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of forcing her into a sexual relationship.
The player’s safety since then has been a subject of great importance as she was unheard of for weeks and then suddenly reappeared when the country came under massive international pressure for giving proof of the player’s safety. However, the proofs given by the government are believed to be doctored and no one apart from China’s friends at the IOC believes them to be true.
Speaking with CNBC, Sharapova discussed the efforts taken by the WTA President Steve Simon who along with his board of directors has suspended all tournaments in China and Hong Kong until the board is assured of Peng’s safety and are able to communicate openly with the player.
“She was a colleague and a rival of mine. I obviously hope and pray that she and her family are safe and well. I’ve actually been incredibly impressed by how the WTA has stood up and taken a stance. It was an organisation that I’d been a part of for many years, so seeing Steve Simon do the right thing has been wonderful,” said Sharapova while speaking with CNBC.
Maria Sharapova and Peng Shuai battled 7 times on the court
Sharapova and Peng met on the court 7 times before Sharapova retired from the game. They met twice on clay, once on grass and 4 times on the hard courts. Of the 7 meetings, Peng managed only 1 win, winning their 3rd round clash at the 2009 Beijing Open in 3-sets. While Sharapova won the next meeting in 3-sets, it was the last time Peng was able to win a set against Maria.
The Russian won their next 4 meetings in straight-sets having last played against each other in the semi-finals of the Tianjin Open in 2017 where Peng was the defending champion. Coincidentally, the win in Tianjin was the last title Maria won before her retirement.