By Paul Freeman, Sports Director, Channel 4 Sports – HOUSTON, TX. (NASDAQ: WETF), February 19, 2019: Serena Williams, former winner of 22 Grand Slams and current head of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), gave the most extensive interview to date of the report on player Peng Shuai’s disappearance during the Toto Asia Trophy in Zhuhai, China.
Today we learned of an interesting twist in this tragic story. We are told that Peng Shuai, a women’s tennis star, was arrested last Friday and charged with theft for stealing a New York hotel room key. Peng had traveled to China with her teammates and was staying in the hotel without paying for her room.
The original report stated that Peng was reported missing from her hotel room Sunday, February 10, after police noticed she had not checked out. The police report states that Peng left her room with a loaded gun. Police questioned an unassuming hotel security guard who told them that she was with Peng when she did disappear.
Police then found a cell phone left behind by Peng where it contained messages between Peng and three other tourists. In one message, Peng was told by another guest at the hotel that she was in a bad situation, and “ain’t nobody here but me, erm, and my gun.” She was then instructed to take to the underground subway to exit the hotel.
Police detained all other tourists and searched the hotel following a recommendation from the building security.
The CBS Sports on the Scene reporter says he visited the hotel and learned that the police were very thorough in their search of the hotel after suspecting that there was an incident, but nothing was found. He says that no incriminating evidence was discovered.
Serena Williams also spoke about her role in trying to find Peng. She has reportedly met with multiple Chinese leaders including the country’s new president, Xi Jinping, and met with the Chinese President’s chief of staff.
Based on my discussions with the media in Beijing, I am not too sure that this is something that the Chinese government can currently confront easily, with their tour and other events in the U.S. and on the R&D cruises they have going. The WTA obviously has concerns about this issue, but China is a country that depends very heavily on their tennis business, so the WTA feels it’s vital to find out exactly what the issue is.
The WTA has made it clear that they want to be involved in whatever investigation takes place.
Golf journalist Mark Williams reports that Peng has not yet been found. She has been missing since Sunday, February 10, when police were called to investigate a possible theft at the hotel where she was staying in Zhuhai, China.
A security guard had noticed that there was no one in the room, and upon further investigation had found a gun, a white plastic bag, and a button button holder.
The Toto tournament is being held at the Zhuhai International Tennis Center.
The tournament is officially known as the Toto Asia Trophy, and the event is hosted by the Zhuhai Lawn Tennis Club, in the Municipality of Zhuhai, Guangdong Province, People’s Republic of China.
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Paul Freeman is a local journalist based in Houston. You can follow him on Twitter at @PP_Freeman.