Chinese tennis champion Peng Shuai has denied accusing anyone of sexual assault, in an exclusive interview with French sports daily L’Equipe published on Monday. Peng also said she had dinner with International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach on Saturday, when they discussed her future plans and whether she would return to competition. It was the first time Peng had spoken to international, independent media since she posted on Chinese social media platform Weibo in November that she had been pressured into having sex with a retired senior Chinese official. The post was quickly deleted. According to the newspaper, conditions for the interview included that it should be conducted in Chinese and published without commentary. Peng, a three-time Olympian, was accompanied by Chinese Olympic Committee (COC) chief of staff Wang Kan, who acted as translator for the interview with two journalists at a hotel inside the Winter Olympics “bubble”. “I never said anyone sexually assaulted me,” she said. “This post has given rise to a huge misunderstanding from the outside world. I hope that the meaning of this post will no longer be distorted. I also hope that we don’t add more hype on this.” Peng said she had “never disappeared, everyone could see me”, stressing she had stayed in close contact with her friends, answered their emails – including from the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) – and that she had deleted the Weibo post because she wanted to. “My sentimental problems, my private life, should not be involved in sports and politics.” The article said an interview request was sent through the IOC on January 18 to Gou Zhongwen, head of China’s General Administration of Sport and president of the Chinese Olympic Committee. He is also a ministerial-level official and a full member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, making him one of the 300 most powerful people in the country. A response to the newspaper’s request arrived last Thursday in an email signed by COC chief of staff Wang, it said. Peng’s well-being became a matter of international concern in November when, according to the WTA, she appeared to allege on social media that a former Chinese vice-premier, Zhang Gaoli, had sexually assaulted her in the past. The post was taken down minutes later and prompted athletes and others around the world to express fears for her safety through the “where is Peng Shuai” movement. Zhang and the Chinese government have not commented on the matter. Tennis Australia backflips on ‘Where is Peng Shuai?’ T-shirt ban In the L’Equipe interview, Peng said she was aware of the movement. “I don’t think I know everything because I don’t watch much news from abroad. I am not able to read English but I have heard of [the news].” Peng’s first direct overseas contact after the social media post was a video meeting with Bach a few weeks later. She also made multiple appearances at sporting events in China, which failed to assuage international concerns. In a statement on Monday, the IOC said Bach and Kirsty Coventry, former chair of the Athletes’ Commission, met face-to-face with Peng on Saturday, when she informed them she would attend several events at the Games in coming days. Peng Shuai assures world she is safe via video meeting with IOC president Later on Saturday, she and Coventry attended the mixed curling match between China and Norway, according to the statement. Over dinner, Bach invited Peng to Lausanne to visit the IOC and the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, to continue the conversation on their Olympic experiences. Peng accepted the invitation and she and Coventry also agreed they would remain in contact, it said. “All three agreed that any further communication about the content of the meeting would be left to her discretion.” Chinese authorities have not commented on Peng’s social media post and have ignored international calls for a transparent investigation into her remarks about Zhang. According to state news agency Xinhua, Zhang was among a group of retired leaders who received Lunar New Year greetings last month from the country’s leadership, including President Xi Jinping.