Tag Archives: Maria Sharapova

China’s tennis growth is impressive – but stats are still wrong

The growth in women’s tennis has been one of the great China stories – in sport or elsewhere – in recent years. Li Na was the obvious catalyst, and in particular her 2011 French Open win, but much of the credit has to go to the WTA’s CEO, Stacey Allaster. This excellent profile by a former colleague of mine tells you everything you need to know about Allaster, who got the top job in women’s tennis in 2009. 0127811074418700

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Li Na to face Novak Djokovic in Beijing

While it will likely have none of the animosity of that famous showdown between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs (which, incidentally, was 40 years ago this week), Beijing will stage its own Battle of the Sexes on Friday September 27 when women’s world no. 5 Li Na will play men’s world no. 1 Novak Djokovic at the National Tennis Center in northern Beijing to mark the 10th anniversary of the China Open.

Who can shout louder?

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Why Li Na will win Wimbledon

Sabine Lisicki, Petra Kvitova, Agneiszka Radwanska, Marion Bartoli, Sloane Stephens, Kaia Kanepi, Kirsten Flipkens.

Those are the names that stand between Li Na and this year’s Wimbledon title and none of them should cause her to quake in her Nikes. Following Lisicki’s stunning defeat of overwhelming favorite Serena Williams on Monday, the tournament is as open at this stage as it has been in years.

Li Na beat 11th seed Roberta Vinci 6-2, 6-0 in the 4th round

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Weekly Wrap: Yao Ming’s death and Other Stories

Yao Ming is sadly no longer with us. The seven-week-old giraffe in Houston named after the Chinese NBA star was put down after a month-long bone infection couldn’t be treated. Sorry for leading with a tearjerker – I promise the other stories will be more cheerful!

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Li Na makes list one year too late

After Time recently named Li Na as one of the world’s top 100 most influential people, my first thought was about the Timing (sorry). Her breakout performance was her French Open win in 2011, so why have they taken this long to put her on the list? Yes, her brand has continued to grow, but her main sponsors jumped on board in summer 2011, immediately after her Grand Slam win.

Anyway, the point of these lists is to generate discussion, so job done there. Interestingly, while many have predicted that Li Na would soon overtake Maria Sharapova as the world’s highest earning sportswoman, Sharapova’s recent deal with Porsche could keep her in the lead for a little while longer.

Here’s this week Sports Talk column:

Influence is a somewhat fluid concept, particularly in connection with Time Magazine’s annual list of the world’s 100 most influential people.

To say that Italian soccer player Mario Balotelli – one of just four sports figures on the list – is more influential than Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo is farcical.

Is he more colorful, more controversial? Yes, on both counts, and those factors sell magazines, so let’s forgive Time their poetic license.
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