Na Li

Na Li

Is a Chinese former professional tennis player, who achieved a career-high ranking of world No. 2 on the WTA Tour on 17 February 2014. Over the course of her career, Li won nine WTA singles titles, including two Grand Slam singles titles at the 2011 French Open and 2014 Australian Open. Li’s rise to prominence came after those victories, which made her the first and only Grand Slam singles champion from East Asia and Asia as a whole. Prior to this, she had already become the first player representing an East Asian and Asian country to appear in a Grand Slam singles final, a milestone she achieved at the 2011 Australian Open. Li was also the runner-up at the 2013 Australian Open and 2013 WTA Tour Championships, a three-time quarterfinalist at Wimbledon and a semifinalist at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and 2013 US Open.

Na Li was born in Wuhan, China. Her mother’s name is Li Yanping (李豔萍), while her father’s name is Li Shengpeng (李盛鵬), who was a professional badminton player and later worked as a sales representative for a famous company in Wuhan. Her father died of a cardiovascular disease when she was only 14 years old, but her mother didn’t say anything for a few weeks in order not to affect her game. At the age of 6 years old, she followed her father’s steps in badminton, but at 8 years old, Na was persuaded by coach Xia Xiyao of the youth tennis club from Wuhan to practice this sport. She became a professional tennis player in 1999. At the end of 2002, Li left the national tennis team to study part-time at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST), where she also obtained a degree in journalism.

On 27 January 2006, she married Jiang Shan, who became her personal coach. In 2008, she decided to quit the Chinese tennis system and to take the career into her own hands. Until 2012, she was forced to give to the Chinese state about 8% of her earnings thanks to her results, but in the same year, the sanction has been lifted. Na Li has a rose tattoo on her chest, but she kept it hidden for many years, because tattoos are not widely considered acceptable in China, particularly for women. On 19 January 2015, Na Li announced that she and her husband were expecting their first child. She gave birth to her daughter, Alisa on 3 June 2015.

In the Wimbledon Championship of 2012, Li defeated Ksenia Pervak ​​of Kazakhstan, falling in the second round against Romanian Sorana Cirstea. In the Olympics, Li came close to a good chance of winning a medal, after the last Olympics, but ended the competition prematurely, by failing to defeat Slovakian, Daniela Hantuchova in the first round.

During the grass season of 2013, Li played in just two tournaments, the first one being the Eastbourne tournament, where she reached the quarterfinals, but lost against Russian Elena Vesnina. From there, she went to Wimbledon where she also reached the quarterfinals, losing to Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland. In the US tour, Li arrived in the semifinals of Toronto and Cincinnati, losing to Sorana Cirstea in the first tournament and to Serena Williams in the second one. In the US Open, Li defeated Olga Govortsova, Sofia Arvidsson, Laura Robson, Jelena Janković and Ekaterina Makarova to arrive for the first time in the semifinals of this Grand Slam. In the US Open semifinals, she was defeated by Serena Williams.

Na Li began the 2014 year by winning the Shenzhen tournament against Peng Shuai by 6-4, 7-5. She also won the Australian Open by 7-6, 6-0 against Dominika Cibulkova in one hour and 37 minutes. Na Li extended her negative record in Melbourne by not winning against any of the top ten rivals in those two weeks. Having not played since Wimbledon due to a left knee injury which required surgery, Li announced her retirement from professional tennis on 19 September 2014. She ended her career ranked world No. 6 by the Women’s Tennis Association. That year, she was named one of ESPNW’s Impact 25.

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