By Doug Criss and Elizabeth Miller, CNN
(CNN) — A week after rumors circulated about the disappearance of a high-profile Chinese tennis player, the Women’s Tennis Association issued a statement indicating it “did not know of the situation and never received a formal request for assistance in light of the concern for the player’s welfare.”
Haiying Ma, ranked 183rd in the world, has not been seen since she was picked up by police in Volgograd in early March on suspicion of assaulting a state security official, state media said.
Haiying’s father, Lin, said his son was being held incommunicado, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.
The Chinese Tennis Association has requested her release and has promised not to deport her unless it has violated any laws, said the Xinhua report, but an official from the administration said she has not been formally charged.
On Friday, the WTA issued a statement saying, “[I]t was only raised as a concern once it was brought to our attention last Friday.”
The statement, which CNN obtained from the WTA, said: “The WTA was not aware of this situation. We did not know of the situation and never received a formal request for assistance in light of the concern for the player’s welfare.”
China’s government watchdog last week said, “If there is information on the whereabouts of Ms. Lin Haiying, the State Council will make an explanation.”
In addition to serving as the WTA’s chairman, Hewitt’s current duties include being the chairman of the Asia-Pacific Tennis Commission and chair of the Asia-Pacific Tennis Council.