It’s a question that has been asked countless times over the past 12 months – and one which is returning to headlines as the world marks a dark milestone in the chapter.

Exactly 365 days from the tennis star’s first social media post accusing retired Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of sexually assaulting her, her wherabouts and wellbeing remain a mystery.

Now the WTA Tour has floated the idea of returning to host tournaments in China. The WTA Tour voiced concerns about Peng’s safety and proceeded to suspend all events scheduled in the country.

Shuai has not been seen publicly since February when she was paraded at Winter Olympic events in Beijing.

The 36-year-old conducted a rare interview and photo opportunity at the Games, where she tried to downplay her earlier sexual attack claim as a “huge misunderstanding”.

Photos showed Chinese Olympic Committee chief of staff Wang Kan sitting close to Shuai during the interview published by France’s L’Equipe newspaper. There was speculation the presence of Chinese officials showed the interview was not genuine and that the media outlet had been used for Chinese “propaganda”.

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In truth, only a handful of westerners really know where she is – and the ones that do are refusing to say publicly.

The IOC was the first sports body to make contact with Peng before this year’s Winter Olympics.

The IOC said it “has been in regular contact with Peng” since those controversial Games, The Sunreports.

But outside of a small group of Olympics officials, her exact location remains a mystery.

They added: “A visit to Europe continues to be discussed, as was agreed in Beijing. The timing of the planned visit will depend on the Covid situation in China.”

Elsewhere, the ITF President David Haggerty surprised everyone in August by revealing he speaks with Peng via email and wants to meet her “face-to-face”.

The ITF say they have been “reassured by Peng Shuai that she is well” and will continue to “seek assurances of her ongoing safety” – and yet when pressed for more information, the tennis bosses there stubbornly refuse to give details on her location.

Clearly those in the top levels of tennis administration are not talking with each other because it is understood the WTA – the governing body of women’s tennis – have not had any meaningful contact with Peng since this episode began a year ago.

The WTA decided to stop hosting future events in China and this hard-line stance was universally applauded.

Yet chairman and CEO Steve Simon has opened the doors to returning there once Covid restrictions are eased. Shenzhen, China, was supposed to hold the WTA Finals through to the end of 2030 before the pandemic changed those plans.

“We hope that that’s where we’re going to be,” he told Associated Press.

“But, obviously, we have some issues to resolve.

“We do need to resolve Peng. We’re comfortable that she’s safe, and we know she’s in Beijing, which is great. We want that. But we haven’t received the assurances that we want with respect to the investigation that we requested.

“What’s the real story? That’s all we’ve asked for. What’s the story? She obviously had great courage to come forward with what she said. The principles that are involved are right in line with what we stand for as an organisation. And what we’ve asked for is an investigation to understand what occurred, what didn’t occur, and then address it appropriately.”

The WTA has been slammed by tennis commentators for even considering returning to China.

“A year ago today Peng Shuai took to social media with an account of sexual assault. The WTA demanded “a full and fair investigation.” That never happened” American tennis commentator Jon Wertheim wrote on Twitter.

“The player’s health/safety remains a source of concern. And now WTA is returning to China in 2023. What a moral failure.”

Former player Patrick McEnroe wrote: “A year ago today Peng Shuai posted that she had been sexually assaulted.

“She was last seen publicly in February this year.”

As ever, it seems money always talks in global sport and Wimbledon, it should be noted, have no qualms working with a Chinese telecoms sponsor despite Peng being on their doubles honours board.

Where is Peng Shuai? The sad truth is, we just don’t know.”

— with Rob Maul, The Sun

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