The headlines about Li Na’s latest knee injury have centered on the fact that she will miss the US Open later this month, but the real story is about ensuring her legacy.
Continue reading 李娜是中国网球一张永久的名片
Li Na has probably never before been compared to the Xinjiang Flying Tigers, but there’s a first time for everything. Both are on losing streaks they just can’t do anything about.
Li Na has always had a strained relationship with the Chinese media – particularly the written press – who accuse her of being arrogant and disrespectful. But as this week’s Sports Talk column discusses, those media now need Li Na far more than she needs them, especially since she has already won over the global press with her Australian Open victory speech, and has a global profile that’s higher than ever given her rise to number 2 in the rankings. Here is an extract:
China had a record eight players in the singles draw for the Australian Open. Of the five who played on Day 1, there were wins for Li Na (vs 16-year-old Croatian Ana Konjuh) and Zheng Jie (vs 12th seed Roberta Vinci), while wildcard playoff winners Wu Di and Tang Haochen both lost, as did Zhang Shuai, who had ended 2013 so well.
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.
Despite taking the first set 6-2, Li Na lost the final of the WTA Championships in Istanbul (the last before the end-of-season showpiece moves to Singapore next year), as world number one Serena Williams won the next two sets 6-3, 6-0. It was Serena’s 11th title of the year, and her 10th win in 11 games against Li Na, but after going into the game as a massive underdog, Li can be happy she at least forced a third set. Crucially, she now moves up to 3rd in the world rankings – a career high – by leapfrogging both Maria Sharapova and Agnieszka Radwanska.
It should have been a triumphant weekend of sports for Beijing: China’s female golfing star, Feng Shanshan, took the inaugural Reignwood LPGA Classic by a single shot thanks to an eagle on the very last hole, the dream men’s final in the China Open tennis tournament saw no. 1 seed Novak Djokovic beat no. 2 seed Rafael Nadal, while on the women’s side Serena Williams won the tenth title of what is arguably the best year of her career.
But instead, everyone was talking about the weather.