Li Na, who blazed a trail for a generation of women tennis players in China, says the country’s men are now in desperate need of an inspirational role model. Li sparked unprecedented interest in tennis across China after becoming Asia’s first Grand Slam singles champion at 2011 French Open. She retired in 2014 after adding a second major at that year’s Australian Open.
There are currently four Chinese women in the world’s top 50. By contrast the country’s top-ranked male, the unheralded Bai Yan, is 222nd on the ATP Tour rankings. ‘I wish to see the men’s side do well. That would be great,’ Li told reporters at the WTA Tour’s Wuhan Open in her home city this week, where a special ceremony was held to celebrate her induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
‘I think for the men’s side, they need one player to grow up and show everyone ‘I can make it’ and give confidence for other young athletes.’ That could be a male version of herself, it was suggested.—APP