Peng Shuai detail sparks 'unacceptable' controversy at Wimbledon

Free Tibet activists (pictured left) wearing 'Where is Peng Shuai?' T-shirts at Wimbledon and (pictured right) Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai.
Free Tibet activists (pictured left) were stopped at Wimbledon for wearing T-shirts in support of Peng Shuai (pictured right) after the Chinese tennis star made worldwide headlines earlier this year over her disappearance. (Images: Twitter/Getty Images)

Wimbledon has come under fire for officials appearing to stop activists wearing 'Where is Peng Shuai?' T-shirts at SW19 after controversy surrounding the disappearance of the Chinese tennis star has dissipated.

The wellbeing of the three-time Olympian became a matter of global concern in November when she appeared to allege on social media that a former high ranking Chinese official had sexually assaulted her in the past.

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The allegation was quickly removed from the internet under China's strict control.

Peng wasn't heard from in weeks after making the claims, but reappeared in public and held a video call with IOC president Thomas Bach in attempt to allay safety concerns.

However there are still lingering worries that she is being censored in China, particularly considering she later denied ever making the allegations.

An appearance at the Beijing Winter Olympics to watch Eileen Gu win gold also did little for those concerned that she was able to move freely.

And much like we saw at the Australian Open, activists have appeared to be stopped at Wimbledon for wearing 'Where is Peng Shuai?' tops at the All England Club.

Footage from around the grounds on Monday showed a number of 'Free Tibet' activists wearing the T-shirts.

The men also posed in front of the Ladies' doubles Wimbledon honours board, which shows Peng's name from her victory in 2013.

Some activists appeared to be stopped by security, with their bags searched due to the statement.

Wimbledon rules state: "Any objects or clothing bearing political statements, objectionable or offensive statements."

The tennis world was quick to rally around the activists for raising the issue again on one of sport's biggest stages.

Leading tennis reporter Ben Rothenberg praised the activists after the 'silence' that followed Peng's unusual Winter Olympics appearance.

Australian Open Peng Shuai furore

Earlier this year, Tennis Australia officials caused uproar at the year's first grand slam after a spectator was forced to remove a t-shirt and banner referencing Peng.

Video emerged at the Australian Open of Melbourne Park security and police asking a spectator to change a t-shirt saying: "Where is Peng Shuai?"

The spectator also had a banner asking the same question that was confiscated by security.

“Under our ticket conditions of entry we don’t allow clothing, banners or signs that are commercial or political,” a Tennis Australia spokesperson said at the time.

Melbourne based activists hand out
Melbourne based activists hand out "Where is Peng Shuai?" t-shirts outside Rod Laver Arena at the Australian Open in 2022. (Getty Images)

“Peng Shuai’s safety is our primary concern. We continue to work with the WTA and global tennis community to seek more clarity on her situation and will do everything we can to ensure her wellbeing.”

There was strong backlash to the move with tennis legend Martina Navratilova among the many to take aim at Tennis Australia over the debacle, calling the move "cowardly".

The Australian Open eventually bowed down to public pressure and made a U-turn on the ban on T-shirts showing support for Peng.

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