China on Tuesday said the controversy surrounding Peng Shuai was being “maliciously” hyped up, after the Chinese tennis star made sexual assault claims against one of the nation’s most powerful politicians.

Peng, a Wimbledon and French Open doubles champion, was not seen for more than two weeks after she made the accusations against former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli.

The 35-year-old Peng reappeared in public for the first time at the weekend when she was seen attending a Beijing tennis tournament.

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