Who is Peng Shuai and Why is the World Looking For Her?
Here is what is known so far:
One of China's Biggest Sports Stars
Peng Shuai went on to become world number one in doubles, winning two Grand Slam titles – Wimbledon in 2013 and the 2014 French Open. She also reached the US Open semifinals in 2014. Overall, she's won two singles and twenty-two doubles titles.
China's Biggest #MeToo Incident
Within 30 minutes her post disappeared from social media and since then the tennis player has been unavailable. According to CNN, her account on Weibo has been blocked and all mention of the accusation has been deleted on social media. Ms Peng has also not been seen in public.
The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) said representatives from the local tennis association had provided assurances that the athlete is fine in Beijing, but the organisation noted that its own attempts to communicate with Ms Peng were unsuccessful.
"We have reached out to her on every phone number and email address and other forms of contact. There's so many digital approaches to contact people these days that we have, and to date we still have not been able to get a response", said WTA head Steve Simon.
"I've just been resting at home and everything is fine", the email read as per the BBC.
Both the WTA and human rights group Amnesty International voiced doubt that the email was actually written by Peng Shuai.
"China's state media has a track record of forcing statements out of individuals under duress, or else simply fabricating them. These concerns will not go away unless Peng's safety and whereabouts are confirmed", said Doriane Lau, a researcher at Amnesty International.
Since the story gained worldwide attention numerous athletes have called on the Chinese authorities to launch an investigation into the issue, with the hashtag #WhereIsPengShuai trending on social media. Among the athletes demanding action are world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, tennis superstar Serena Williams, Barcelona defender Gerard Pique, and Swiss tennis player Stanislas Wawrinka.
What Will Happen Next?
Steve Simon said the organisation is ready to lose hundreds of millions of dollars worth of business in China if the issue is not addressed.
"Women need to be respected and not censored. We're definitely willing to pull our business and deal with all the complications that come with it. Because this is certainly, this is bigger than the business", Mr Simon said.
Neither Mr Zhang nor Chinese officials have addressed the issue. On 18 November, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said he was "not aware of the relevant situation" when asked by reporters about Ms Peng's whereabouts.
The case may likely mar the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing next year. China has already faced calls for a boycott of the event over alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang, a claim Beijing has vehemently denied.