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Li Na: The new brand for sports China

06-04-2011 16:01 BJT

In Asian women's tennis, Li Na is a rarity...She started playing the game at six, and like the other pros on tour is now a regular feature in the four majors, but she's on the verge of becoming the first ever Asian player to win a Grand Slam event. The media in her home, China, say her power and skill on the court and her straight shooting style off it, have made Li Na a new international brand for China sports.

In 1988, a six-year-old Li Na picked up a racket for the first time. Eleven years later she was a professional. In 2002, Li Na won 14 tennis titles on the satellite circuit before surprisingly announcing her retirement. Two years later, though, feeling unfulfilled on the court, Li Na was back. At Wimbledon in 2006, she reached the last eight as a dark horse, progressing further than any Chinese player before her. But she really jumped to international prominence in January this the Sydney Masters, she defeated Kim Clijsters to become the first Chinese WTA tournament champion. Just two weeks later, she was playing Clijsters again, in the final of the Australian Open. At 28 Li Na became the first Asian player to reach a Grand Slam singles final.

And, as they say, behind every successful woman, there is a snoring man. Along with Li Na's increasingly outstanding performance, her former team mate and coach, now husband, Jiang Shan, has also become a well recognised face in the tennis world.

On court she's a fighter. Her passion is clear to see. Off the court she is a frank and honest personality. These are the traits that have come to symbolise Li Na.

" Oh wait, wait, who ever said I'm sometimes not in a good mood? ...So you mean I used to be impatient? ...Then you're implying I used to be not so focussed mentally? ... It's too difficult. I don't even know how to answer that question. It's like I want to have an ice cream now, and won't want one later, then you ask why not. What if I just don't want it? There's no need to answer that. (30 sec)"

Her personality and ever improving talent draws more and more international attention to Li Na.

Before this year's French Open, Dutch and French media asked some of their Chinese colleagues for any information on the game in China as background for their own stories.

When Li Na took the first set point in one of her recent matches, French Open TV was on hand in the CCTV studio to film the reactions of Chinese broadcasting staff.

Li Na's impressive performance has whipped up a "Chinese Tornado" at the French Open.

In a nation that craves international sports heroes, Li Na has become China's latest national treasure, and a new drawcard for Chinese sport in the global sports market.

Editor:Du Xiaodan |Source: CNTV.CN

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