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He had a hard time even standing. The heat and humidity had drained all of his energy in the semi-final of the US Open.

However, Peng Shuai refused to give up.

He paused between stitches to hold onto his left thigh. He used the racket to support himself, as if it were a cane. He leaned against a wall and wept.

He received help off the court, where he was diagnosed with heatstroke. Doctors recommended that he leave the party.

But the Chinese returned to battle. He contested six more points until he eventually collapsed. Caroline Wozniacki, her rival in that 2014 meeting, came to see how she was doing.

Only then, utterly exhausted, did Peng withdraw from the meeting that marked the pinnacle of her singles career.

He must have been pulled out in a wheelchair.

Peng is missing, after accusing a former prominent Chinese official of sexually assaulting her

For a tennis player who underwent heart surgery at age 12, giving up is not easy. That was one of the reasons that allowed him to excel in tennis.

Now, Peng is missing, after accusing a former prominent Chinese official of sexually assaulting her.

Peng’s fighting spirit led her to win 23 doubles titles on the WTA Tour, including Wimbledon in 2013 and the French Open a year later.

“She was very determined,” German Laura Siegemund, one of her doubles teammates, said during a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “He also has a great perception of the game. Off the court he is a very sweet person. More introverted and quiet, but super nice and straightforward … I can’t believe this is happening in the 21st century. But I do consider it important that more people join and speak. I hope you are good”.

On Friday, China’s Foreign Ministry insisted on its stance that it was unaware of the controversy surrounding Peng. For her part, the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, stressed that the Chinese authorities should “provide independent and verifiable evidence of her whereabouts and that she is safe.”

A social media campaign tagged #WhereIsPengShuai (where is Peng Shuai) has been trending on Twitter. Famous players such as Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams have spoken to reveal the situation of the Chinese athlete.

“I am very concerned to hear this news. You don’t know what is true or not, ”Siegemund said. “In the end, all of this needs to be investigated further. But first of all, you just have to make sure she’s okay. It just worries that she’s really missing. That worries me a lot ”.

Siegemund also emphasized that China usually hosts several WTA tournaments each year.

“Hope for the best. It is good that many people are talking about this, but it is a dangerous situation for everyone, even talking about it, “he said.

Peng, who is 35, learned about tennis at 8, thanks to an uncle. She is an admirer of John McEnroe, and she always carried in her tennis suitcase the figure of a cow as an amulet – she was born in the year of the ox.

In February 2014, he reached the top of the ranking in doubles. She became the only Chinese – in any branch – to have held such a place in tennis, either alone or in pairs.

Peng has an unorthodox style of play. Hold the racket with two hands on both forehand and backhand shots.

“It was unique, very different. But he had a great career and amazing results, ”Siegemund said. “She has a really good eye, great shots. She is a different but very good player.

In addition to her two Grand Slam titles in doubles, achieved with Taiwanese Hsieh Su-wei, Peng reached the final of the Australian Open in 2017, with Andrea Hlavackova.

Pairing with Siegemund was crowned in Guangzhou, China, in September 2019.

“We had an intense week there,” Siegemund said. “The fans supported us and it was really nice to play with a Chinese tennis player in China.”

Siegemund said that while there was a language barrier between her and Peng, her partner “was always in a good mood.”

“I always wanted to play with her more, but it didn’t happen for various reasons,” added Siegemund, who is recovering from surgery on his right knee.

In singles, in addition to that US Open semi-final, Peng won two titles, Tianjin in 206 and Nanchang in 2017. He was a finalist in seven tournaments.

She tried to follow in the footsteps of Li Na, the first Chinese to win a Grand Slam tournament. Peng reached the fourth round of Wimbledon three times in singles, the fifth in Australia twice and the third round of the French Open in two editions.

His best place in the singles ranking was 14th, in August 2011.

Peng represented his country when it hosted the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, as well as London 2012 and Rio de Janeiro 2016.

Although she is not officially retired, she played her last match in Qatar, in February 2020.

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