Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai has denied she ever accused anyone of sexual assault, adding that she herself had deleted her social media post in November that had appeared to make such a claim.
The well-being of Peng, a three-time Olympian, became a matter of global concern when she appeared to allege on social media that a former Chinese vice premier, Zhang Gaoli, had sexually assaulted her in the past.
In an interview with French newspaper L'Equipe at a hotel in Beijing, Peng denied she had made such allegations.
"In the text we could see in Europe, you accused someone of sexual assault. What did you really write? We don't understand," asked the paper.
"Sexual assault? I never said anyone had sexually assaulted me in any way," said Peng, without elaborating.
In her now-deleted post on China's Twitter-like Weibo, Peng had written "why did you take me to your house and force me into having relations with you?", though she also described the relationship with Zhang as an on-off one that was also consensual.
The post led the Women's Tennis Association to suspend tournaments in China and caused an international outcry about her safety.