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.
The allegation was quickly removed from the internet under China's strict control.
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."
Our activists have just been searched by security at #Wimbledon. They were warned against protesting or even speaking to people about the tennis player Peng Shuai.
All they were doing was walking around the site wearing T-shirts that asked #WhereIsPengShuai? @DrewPavlou pic.twitter.com/eNChxEpJtf
— Free Tibet (@freetibetorg) July 4, 2022
Former #Wimbledon champion Peng Shuai should be competing here today. Instead, we just have her name on a board.
We should be able to speak freely about her and ask a simple question: #WhereIsPengShuai? pic.twitter.com/CqmMgHZwax
— Free Tibet (@freetibetorg) July 4, 2022
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.
Good to see a small group of activists here at #Wimbledon today wearing "Where is Peng Shuai?" t-shirts.
There has been only silence since Peng was trotted out as a prop for the Olympics in February.
Questions remain, and China remains on the ATP's 2022 schedule.
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) July 4, 2022
Spotted these “Where is Peng Shuai?” shirts today. First I’ve seen thus far at Wimbledon pic.twitter.com/lp4N8NoM0B
— D'Arcy Maine (@darcymaine_espn) July 4, 2022
The three chaps wearing the "Where is Peng Shuai" shirts being interviewed by a journalist.
The one on the far right told me they'd had their stuff searched by security. But certainly not stopped from roaming the grounds. pic.twitter.com/wsI1mF3WBp
— Stephanie Myles (@OpenCourt) July 4, 2022
Erm. This is unacceptable @Wimbledon
A female tennis player alleges sexual assault against a senior CCP official, is effectively detained in China, and you don’t allow her name to be mentioned?
The @WTA has spoken out. Why not you?
Hear no evil….? #freepengshuai https://t.co/d76CUP3Htt
— Luke de Pulford 裴倫德 (@lukedepulford) July 4, 2022
PENG SHUAI CAMPAIGN GOES GLOBAL! Thank you to @freetibetorg activists wearing #WhereIsPengShuai shirts to Wimbledon today. We will never forget the Chinese regime’s silencing of women - the campaign continues @BenRothenberg @PatrickMcEnroe @Martina pic.twitter.com/RLktdtMc96
— Drew Pavlou (@DrewPavlou) July 4, 2022
— Chung Ching Kwong 鄺頌晴 (@chungchingkwong) July 4, 2022
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.
“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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