French Open 2011 champion Li Na: from badminton player to China’s tennis superstar

China’s Li Na initially wanted to become a badminton player like her father. However, a couple of years in training, she was told by her old badminton coach that she was not made for the sport, considered as one of the most popular in China. Instead, she she was advised to play tennis.

Turns out, the decision paid off. At 29, Li Na has set a record for her country and in Asia for being the first Asian player – male or female – to win a Grand Slam singles title. On Saturday, June 4, Li Na beat defending champion Francesca Schiavone in straight sets.

“My dad wanted me to become a badminton champion, that’s why he made me play tennis. After two years of training, the badminton coach told me I was not made for badminton and that I should rather play tennis,” Li said during the interview.
After the world saw Li falling on the ground after winning the match point, the China’s tennis superstar said that it was a move that she herself did not plan.

Li Na has a great weight on her shoulders considering that China has a population of 1.3 billion people. On January, she represented 1.3 billion-strong Chinese citizens at the final of the Australian Open. She lost to Kim Clijsters.

It is expected that state run broadcasting networks in China has already spread the good news to the people. The French Open 2011 title just happens to be Li’s fifth career title and in fact her first on clay. During the start of the Roland Garros tournament, she was not considered a favorite. However, when the top three seeds fell before the quarterfinals, her chances grew.

“Today is the dream come true. Not so many player can win (a) Grand Slam,” Li said.

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