Li seeks double happiness at Wimbledon
China's Li Na rewrote the record books by winning the French Open, and the overnight Asian superstar can cement her place among the game's elite by sealing back-to-back Slams at Wimbledon.sports Updated: Jun 17, 2011 07:47 IST
China's Li Na rewrote the record books by winning the French Open, and the overnight Asian superstar can cement her place among the game's elite by sealing back-to-back Slams at Wimbledon.
The unassuming Li, 29, has been characteristically candid on her chances at the All England Club, where she is a two-time quarter-finalist and a leading title hope among yet another wide-open women's field.
"The French Open is over, right now I'm preparing for Wimbledon," she said, according to the Beijing Times.
"Wimbledon is a grass tournament, you can't say that I played badly in the last two Slams so of course I'm going to get good results at Wimbledon."
Li, a one-time badminton player who rebelled against China's state-run sports system, became Asia's first Grand Slam winner when she beat defending champion Francesca Schiavone to lift the French Open trophy earlier in June.
The victory, watched by 116 million Chinese, catapulted Li among the country's sporting greats, generating frenzied media coverage and a massive boost for tennis in the world's most populous nation.
Li, the softly spoken but iron-willed Wuhan native, has now featured in both of Grand Slam finals 2011 after losing January's Australian Open final to Kim Clijsters.
And with Clijsters out of Wimbledon, and the formidable Williams sisters only just back after long absences, Li has a golden chance to strike another blow for Asian tennis, and in the process spur on China's army of budding players.
Despite a short-lived campaign at England's Eastbourne tournament, Li is more than comfortable playing on grass after becoming China's first Grand Slam quarter-finalist at Wimbledon in 2006.
Li, now ranked four - equalling the highest by an Asian woman - also reached the last eight in 2010 before being knocked out in straight sets by Serena Williams.
"I have played good on grass before, I made my first Grand Slam breakthrough at Wimbledon. I know how to play on grass," she said, adding that the American great was unlikely to produce her best at this year's tournament.
"As far as players are concerned, it is not very easy to come back from injury. I am happy that they are both able to return to competition," she said.
First Published: Jun 17, 2011 07:45 IST