The International Tennis Federation (ITF) is investigating accusations made against China’s Peng Shuai by her Chinese opponent Yeon Ju in Wednesday’s third round match at the US Open.
Earlier Wednesday, news broke that Peng had made a complaint to the ITF. The allegations? Yeon had rubbed the semi-finalist’s forearm after they had gotten into a heated debate over the umpire’s call. While it is unclear whether there was any physical contact, Yeon refuted the allegations and claimed that the whole story was a publicity stunt.
The ITF, however, was quick to reply, saying, “The International Tennis Federation has read with interest the news reported in Chinese media this evening concerning its provisional suspension of China’s Peng Shuai following the conclusion of play in the women’s singles second round match at the US Open.
“As a result of the complaint received from Peng Shuai regarding this incident, the ITF will be launching an investigation into the matter.”
Through her lawyers, Peng claimed she did not make the complaint to “break (Yeon’s) spirit.” Instead, the complaint was for “human rights.” According to official Chinese news agency Xinhua, Peng’s lawyer, Chen Guangming, wrote: “Peng wants the sport to respect human rights and pay attention to women’s interests.”
The complaint would have allowed Peng to continue playing, barring an investigation into the allegations. Instead, Peng withdrew from the match, stating, “In order to safeguard her self-esteem and standards, Ms. Peng Shuai requested to be taken off the court.”
Yeon would go on to win the match, 6-4, 6-0.
Peng was a semifinalist at Wimbledon earlier this year, but hasn’t been seen in public since making the accusations.
She is not the first pro athlete to complain about the officiating in a major tournament. During Sunday’s women’s final at the US Open, American star Sloane Stephens refused to shake an umpire’s hand, saying, “Enough is enough.” After her victory, she was smacked with a $17,500 fine.