Retired Chinese tennis star Li Na was named as the 60th member of the Laureus World Sports Academy on Wednesday.
She was inducted in Paris, the city where she became the first Chinese player to win a Grand Slam title in 2011.
The former world No.2 joins the 59 fellow sporting legends in the Laureus Academy including tennis greats Boris Becker, Ilie Nastase, Martina Navratilova and Monica Seles.
One of China’s greatest ever athletes, the 34-year-old Li Na’s tennis career was defined by firsts. She was the first Chinese player to win a WTA title, the first Chinese player to break into the top ten in the world rankings and the first Asian player ever to win a Grand Slam.
Speaking here, Li Na said: “Sport has given me so much throughout my life. The lessons I learned, the wins and the losses made me into the person I am today.
“I’m honoured to join this incredible team of sporting legends in the Laureus Academy and I’m looking forward to working with my fellow Academy Members, supporting the work of Laureus Sport for Good and inspiring young people around the world through sport. I am so happy that this is happening in Paris, which is a city which means so much to me.”
Li Na was welcomed into the Academy in Paris by Laureus Chairman Sean Fitzpatrick. Sean said: “Li Na is one of China’s greatest ever athletes and I’m delighted to welcome her into the Laureus Academy. Throughout her career she became an icon of the sport of tennis and a role model for youngsters in China and around the world.”
Li Na became professional in 1999 and went on to win nine singles Women’s Tennis Association and 19 International Tennis Federation titles throughout her career.
As well as winning the 2011 French Open, Li Na also achieved Grand Slam glory at the Australian Open in 2014. She retired from the professional game in September 2014 following a serious knee injury. In 2015, Li Na was presented with the Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award at the Laureus World Sports Awards in Shanghai.