After creating history by becoming the first Chinese and first Asian-born player to win a Grand Slam singles title, 37-year-old Li Na set another record by becoming the first Asian-born player to be enlisted into the prestigious International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island.
The retired Chinese tennis great was a two-time Grand Slam champion and former world No. 2. Her first singles title in a major came at the 2011 French Open, and the second at the 2014 Australian Open. She also collected seven WTA singles titles.
She retired in 2014 at the age of 32 because of recurring knee injuries, eight months after winning that year’s Australian Open and rising to a career-high No. 2 in the WTA rankings.
While speaking to media, Li said: “Exciting, nervous, of course. But, for me, it’s not easy getting in the International Hall of Fame…for me, it’s everything. Yeah, at least I always try my best at tennis on the court. If you try everything, I think one day for sure there will be payback.”
Besides what she has achieved on the court, Li has made even greater contributions to the development of tennis in China by becoming a role model for other players. She chose to break away from the country’s national training mechanism and go solo, like her opponents in other countries.
Li’s success has motivated other Chinese tennis players, such as Wang Qiang and Zhang Shuai, who are venturing into the international tennis world on their own. The national mechanism gave Li the fundamentals, and going solo gave her the keys to success in her career. Her titles helped Chinese kids believe they could do it too, and her way of winning those titles showed children how to do it.
Ahead of her much-acclaimed induction into the highest echelon of former tennis legends, the Chinese tennis star spent part of Thursday speaking to children and conducting a clinic at a tennis club in New York City.
Li told Xinhua on Thursday that she has been dreaming of establishing a tennis school since her retirement in September 2014.
Meanwhile, she also highlighted China’s recent success in world tennis and added: “For me, China’s tennis is still young. They can have a lot of time to grow up.”
Source: CGTN(With input from Xinhua News Agency)