2014/10/21

Notes and Quotes: The WTA Top 8 Meet the Press in Singapore

Elite 8

Photo taken from the twitter feed of Maria Sharapova

 

(October 19, 2014) The elite 8 of women’s tennis met the media on Sunday in advance of the WTA Finals which begin on Monday in Singapore. Here are a few notable quotables.

 

Serena Williams responding to Shamil Tarpischev’s comments:

“I think the WTA did a great job of taking initiative and taking immediate action to his comments. I thought they were very insensitive and extremely sexist as well as racist at the same time. I thought they were in a way bullying.

“I’ve done the best that I can do, and that’s all I can say. So I just wasn’t very happy with his comments. I think a lot of people weren’t happy as well.

“But the WTA and the USTA did a wonderful job of making sure that ‑‑ in this day of age, 2014 for someone with his power, it’s really unacceptable to make such bullying remarks.”

 

Maria Sharapova was also asked about Tarpishev’s comments.

“I think they were very disrespectful and uncalled for, and I’m glad that many people have stood up, including the WTA. It was very inappropriate, especially in his position and all the responsibilities that he has not just in sport, but being part of the Olympic committee. It was just really irresponsible on his side.”

 

How important is the year‑end No. 1?

SERENA WILLIAMS: “I definitely would be here if I already had it locked up. It’s obviously super important for me. I love being No. 1; I love being the best.

“But at this at the same time, I’m really glad that I was able to get a slam this year, which was really annoying for me that I wasn’t able to capture one.

That was something that was super, super, super important, especially for the goals that I was trying to reach.”

 

 

MARIA SHARAPOVA: “Yeah, my opinion about the No. 1 hasn’t changed very much. I always feel that ranking is also not just based on your results but based on other people’s results and accomplishments.

“That’s why I’ve always experienced the joy of Grand Slam wins so much more, because the spur of the moment. There is actually a point that you have to win in order to get it; whereas the rankings will depend on other people’s performances during the year, at certain tournaments.

“Is it an incredible accomplishment? Absolutely. It would be amazing to achieve that. I haven’t done that in my career, finishing year‑end No. 1, but I have been in that spot before and been No. 2 before and gotten to No. 1.

If I do perform well, then my chances are better than if I don’t perform well.

And the pic of the night…:) pic.twitter.com/x9t3ajMTb1

— Maria Sharapova (@MariaSharapova) October 18, 2014

 

 

A picture is worth a thousand words. Maria Sharapova was asked about why she tweeted the behind the scenes photo from the draw ceremony.

“Just because it’s like a thousand words in one picture. It’s incredible. Can’t wait to write a book. (Laughter.) Those are the moments where I’m like, Oh, my goodness. I just wrote a whole chapter in one evening.

“Yeah, looked like a lot of fun, huh? Love those things.”

 

Petra Kvitova was asked about if it feels different to be a Wimbledon winner the second time around.

“It is different. I think that you can’t really know what to expect from that. Just the time show you what you have to do and change in your life probably.

“I mean, I didn’t want to change myself, but of course the things around me was different, so I need to handle it and try to do best what I can.

“The pressure was there of course on the court, off the court as well. I thought that probably I need to win every match and every tournament I’m playing after that, so it’s not really possible.

“Yeah, this time it’s much more easier for me, if I can say that. I know what I can expect and I know a little bit how to deal with that. It’s not really like the first time, so…

“I’m more relaxed and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

Agnieszka Radwanska – Queen of the “Hot Shot.” The World No. was asked about her favorite shot that she hit.

“Well, of course it wasn’t that tricky as last year. Well, I have still few matches, so maybe I will do it here.

“I think I really liked that shot from Montreal from the semifinal. The overhead backhand. Maybe someone remember that.

“I think that was my favorite one, especially because it was a really big moment.

 

Ana Ivanovic- embracing Twitter and Istagram. The 2008 French Open winner and former world No. 1 was asked if she has embraced stardom and if it was due to social media and if it has impacted her on court.

That’s why I started Twitter and Instagram actually. Because I ‑‑ like I spoke just now, before I really felt like I changed also in this sense because I started to feel more comfortable with myself. I matured. It helped me to be okay with myself and who I am as a person and to embrace everything that comes with the job that I do.

“For me, I really struggled to be in the spotlight. It was really strange when I won French Open, when I was No. 1 in the world. It took me some time to accept this and to be okay.

“Now I actually enjoy it. That’s why I think it shows on and off the court I’m much more relaxed because I’m much more content with myself.”

 

What Serena has taught Eugenie Bouchard?

“I’ve learned many things. I think one thing that sticks out is that when it’s not going well, you can seeing her really try to calm herself down. She does her little hand thing, and that really symbolizes in my head she’s really trying to stay calm.

“Even someone as good as her has tough moments, and you can see her struggle with emotions a bit on the court. But she can always kind of collect herself and put it in the past and move forward.

“So I always imagine that, and I’m like, You know what? Serena can stay calm, I can stay calm.

 

Caroline Wozniacki – Not looking at the rankings. In a topsy turvy last couple of years for the two-time year-end No. 1, the Dane talks about the rankings.

“I never really looked at the rankings, but I definitely totally stopped when I went down to 18. I’m like, This is depressing. I don’t want to be down here.

“At the end of day, I just told myself, Doesn’t matter if you’re No. 1 or No. 18. At the end of the day, you have to compete with the same players. A lot of girls play so well now so it’s never easy. I just thought if I play well, the ranking will come back up soon.

“I started playing well, I started finding my form, and then the ranking just came up really quickly.”

 

The recently retired Li Na was asked about having second thoughts about calling it quits:

“Of course I’m not going to come back to tennis. I’m already 32; beginning of the year I already 33. I think I have to take care of my family right now, because last 32 years I was try hard as I can on tennis court.

“Now, you know, tennis is part of the life, so now I have to take care my family.”

Tennis Panorama News is in Singapore this week covering the WTA Finals. Follow on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.

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Li Na’s Retirement Ceremony in Around the Grounds Beijing Photo Gallery

(September 30, 2014) BEIJING – Photos by Natalie Ho from around the grounds to the main interview room on Tuesday of the China Open including Li Na’s retirement ceremony.

Abigail Hinto and Natalie Ho are in Beijing, China covering the China Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow their twitter updates on @TennisNewsTPN.

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Li Na Announces Retirement

Li Na

Li Na

(September 19, 2014) After much speculations over the past few months, China’s Li Na has officially retired from tennis. The 32-year-old called it quits due to recurring knee injuries. She announced her retirement in a letter posted on social media on Friday.

 

 

Friday, September 19, 2014

My dear friends,

For close to fifteen years, we’ve been a part of each other’s lives. As a tennis player representing China on the global stage, I’ve trekked around the world playing hundreds of matches on the WTA tour, for China’s Fed Cup team, at the National Games and at several Olympic Games. You’ve always been there for me, supporting me, cheering me on, and encouraging me to reach my potential.

Representing China on the tennis court was an extraordinary privilege and a true honour. Having the unique opportunity to effectively bring more attention to the sport of tennis in China and all over Asia is something I will cherish forever. But in sport, just like in life, all great things must come to an end.

2014 has become one of the most significant years in my career and my life. This year was full of amazing highlights, which included winning my second Grand Slam singles title at the Australian Open and sharing the extraordinary experience with my country, my team, my husband and my fans. It was also a year filled with difficult moments, such as having to deal with the inevitable – making the decision to end my professional tennis career.

The amazing moment in Australia was filled with joy, happiness and extraordinary sense of accomplishment. The task of finally making a decision to hang up my racquet felt a lot more difficult than winning seven matches in a row in the Australian heat. It took me several agonizing months to finally come to the decision that my chronic injuries will never again let me be the tennis player that I can be. Walking away from the sport, effective immediately, is the right decision for me and my family.

Most people in the tennis world know that my career has been marked by my troubled right knee. The black brace I wear over it when I step on the court has become my tennis birth mark. And while the brace completes my tennis look, the knee problems have at times overtaken my life.

After four knee surgeries and hundreds of shots injected into my knee weekly to alleviate swelling and pain, my body is begging me to stop the pounding. My previous three surgeries were on my right knee. My most recent knee surgery took place this July and was on my left knee. After a few weeks of post-surgery recovery, I tried to go through all the necessary steps to get back on the court. While I’ve come back from surgery in the past, this time it felt different. One of my goals was to recover as fast as I could in order to be ready for the first WTA tournament in my hometown of Wuhan. As hard as I tried to get back to being 100%, my body kept telling me that, at 32, I will not be able to compete at the top level ever again. The sport is just too competitive, too good, to not be 100%.

Winning a Grand Slam title this year and achieving a ranking of World No.2 is the way I would like to leave competitive tennis. As hard as it’s been to come to this decision, I am at peace with it. I have no regrets. I wasn’t supposed to be here in the first place, remember? Not many people believed in my talent and my abilities, yet I found a way to persevere, to prove them (and sometimes myself!) wrong.

I’ve succeeded on the global stage in a sport that a few years ago was in its infancy in China. What I’ve accomplished for myself is beyond my wildest dreams. What I accomplished for my country is one of my most proud achievements.

In 2008, there were two professional women’s tennis tournaments in China. Today, there are 10, one of them in Wuhan, my hometown. That to me is extraordinary! Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams – with thirty Grand Slam singles titles among them – are coming to my hometown to play tennis for the fans of China! Just as I didn’t think I could ever be a Grand Slam champion, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that some of the best female athletes in the world could play tennis in Wuhan, in my backyard.

My contributions to the growth of the sport in China are very special to me. But I don’t want to stop here. Together with IMG, my management company, we are putting together various plans on how we will continue to grow the sport of tennis in China. These plans include opening the Li Na Tennis Academy, which will provide scholarships for the future generation of Chinese tennis stars. I will also stay involved in the Right to Play, an organization dedicated to helping underprivileged children overcome challenges through sport. My philanthropic work will expand in scope as I continue to dedicate myself to helping those in need. What was once just a dream in China today is a reality.

On a personal side, I look forward to starting a new chapter of my life, hopefully having a family and reconnecting with those I did not have the luxury of spending a lot of time with while playing. I can’t wait to revisit all the amazing places I played tennis in and see the world through a new set of eyes. I look forward to slowing down and living my life at a new, slower, relaxed pace.

Tennis is an individual sport and as players, our job is to spend a lot of time focusing on ourselves. But no player can ever become a champion alone and nobody knows this better than me. There isn’t enough space here to thank everyone who has travelled on my journey with me and contributed to my success. But I must thank those that have stuck with me through the highs and the lows and have helped me become the person that I am today.

Thank you to:
• My mother – for your never-ending support. Through the laughs and the tears, you’ve always been there for me.
• My father – you were taken away from me way too early and I haven’t been the same since. You’ve remained the sunshine in my life and I am who I am because of you.
• Jiang Shan – you’ve been by my side for 20 years. You are my everything and I am grateful to have shared my life with you.
• My first coaches Ms. Xia Xiyao and Ms. Yu Liqiao – for putting me on the tennis path.
• Madame Sun and the Chinese Tennis Association – thank you for being trailblazers for tennis in China.
• Mr. Hu Dechun and the Hubei Sports Bureau – for understanding me and supporting me through the years.
• Women’s Tennis Association – for your passion for women’s tennis and hard work growing it around the world.
• Mr. Chan Hongchang – for supporting me when I first decided to become a professional tennis player in 2008. You helped me make up my mind.
• Thomas Hogstedt – for introducing me to professional tennis.
• Michael Mortenson – for helping me win my first Grand Slam.
• Carlos Rodriguez – for pushing me beyond the limits I thought I could reach.
• Alex Stober – for taking care of me all of these years and pulling me together when I was falling apart.
• Erich Rembeck and Johannes Wieber – for finding a way to make me pain free, over and over again.
• Fred Zhang and the Nike team – you’ve been my guiding light, my support system and my biggest cheerleader. I will never forget it.
• To Max Eisenbud and the entire IMG Team – for being the best management company in the world and for taking care of me every day.
• To all the sponsors that have supported me through every stage of my career.
• To my relatives, friends, and everyone who has helped me throughout my career – for always being there for me and for your never-ending support.
• To my fellow tennis players – for being a part of my journey all of these years. I have so much respect for all of you.
• To everyone in the media who’s covered my career and helped the growth of tennis in China and around the world.
• To the amazing tennis fans around the world – for your unyielding support of our sport and for playing every tennis match along with me.
• And lastly, to tennis fans in China – for getting on the bandwagon and staying on it! I am grateful to each and every one of you for pushing me to be my best, embracing me and loving me unconditionally. There is no limit to how far we can take the sport of tennis in China, together.

When I started playing tennis, I was just a neighbourhood kid with an afterschool hobby, not realizing what magical journey lay ahead of me. If I only knew what a vehicle the sport of tennis, along with my success, would become for my beloved China. While my journey hasn’t been easy, it has been rewarding. I’ve seen change happening in front of my eyes, young girls picking up tennis racquets, setting goals, following their hearts and believing in themselves. I hope that I’ve had the opportunity to inspire young women all over China to believe in themselves, to set their goals high and pursue them with vengeance and self-belief.

Whether you want to be a tennis player, a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher or a business leader, I urge you to believe in yourself and follow your dream. If I could do it, you can too! Be the bird that sticks out. With hard work, your dreams will come true.

LI NA

WTA Announcement on LI Na’s Retirement

ST PETERSBURG, FL, USA – Chinese tennis trailblazer and reigning Australian Open champion Li Na today brought down the curtain on a glittering 15-year professional career with the announcement of her official retirement from the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA). Winner of nine WTA singles titles, two doubles titles and a two-time Grand Slam champion, the 32-year-old marks the end of a career that saw her become one of the very best and most popular players in the history of women’s tennis.

 

“Li Na has been a fun, powerful, and wonderful player on the WTA tour and, along with her fans, I am sad to hear that she has retired,” said WTA Chairman & CEO Stacey Allaster. “In addition to her amazing tennis abilities and her warm and humorous personality, she is a pioneer who opened doors to tennis for hundreds of millions of people throughout China and Asia.  It’s hard to be a household name in a nation with 1.4 billion people, but that’s what Li Na is.  Thanks to all she has achieved and contributed, her legacy is immense and I have no doubt that her contributions to the WTA will be seen for decades to come in China, throughout Asia and the rest of the world.  I wish her the best of luck in this next chapter in her life.  I will miss her, and I know that while she may be retired from competition, she still will play a big role in the growth of our sport around the world.”

 

Li etched her name in the history books at Roland Garros in 2011 when she became the first Asian player to win a Grand Slam singles title, defeating Top 10 rivals in each of her last four matches. Earlier in 2011 she was the first player from the region to reach a major final, finishing runner-up to Kim Clijsters at the Australian Open. After another run to the final at the Australian Open in 2013, when she was edged by Victoria Azarenka in a dramatic three-setter, Li captured her second Grand Slam title at Melbourne Park in January this year – just the second woman aged over 30 to win the title in the Open Era, after Margaret Court. The victory helped propel Li to World No.2 on February 17, 2014 – the highest ranking ever attained by an Asian player.

 

Over the course of her career, particularly in later years as her success reached its crescendo, Li’s powerful game delivered against the very best. Her 21 wins over Top 5 opponents included two over reigning World No.1s – Serena Williams at Stuttgart in 2008 and Caroline Wozniacki at the 2011 Australian Open. In total she reached 21 WTA singles finals (going 9-12 in those) and in addition to her wins at the Australian Open and Roland Garros was a semifinalist at the US Open and quarterfinalist at Wimbledon.

 

Along the way, Li established a string of breakthroughs for Chinese tennis, alongside her Grand Slam title triumphs. She was the first to win a WTA singles title (2004 Guangzhou) and first to win a WTA Premier title (2011 Sydney); first to reach a Grand Slam singles quarterfinal (2006 Wimbledon); first to compete in singles at the WTA Finals (2011-13, finishing runner-up to S.Williams on her most recent appearance); and first to crack the singles Top 20 (August 14, 2006), Top 10 (February 1, 2010) and Top 5 (June 6, 2011). As wfaell as representing her country in Fed Cup competition in eight different years she was a three-time Olympian for China (Sydney 2000, Beijing 2008 and London 2012). She also played countrywoman Zheng Jie in the first All-Chinese WTA singles final at Estoril in 2006 (won by Zheng) and earlier this year won the second All-China final in WTA history at Shenzhen, defeating Peng Shuai for the title.

 

Li steps away from the game with a career singles win-loss record of 503-188 and prize money earnings of $16,709,074. She is currently ranked No.6.

 

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Serena Williams Leads U.S. Open Women’s Field

2012 US Open

 

U.S. Tennis Association -White Plains, N.Y., July 16, 2014 – The USTA  announced that world No. 1 and two-time defending champion Serena Williams leads the women’s field for the 2014 US Open Tennis Championships. Williams is joined by 103 of the world’s top 105 women, including reigning French Open and former US Open champion Maria Sharapova, Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, two-time US Open champion Venus Williams and former US Open champions Samantha Stosur and Svetlana Kuznetsova.

In total, 36 different countries are represented in the women’s field. Eleven U.S. women received entry into the main draw – the most of any country – with nine Americans ranked in the Top 50.

The 2014 US Open will be played August 25 through September 8 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y. The US Open Women’s Singles Championship is presented by JPMorgan Chase.

Leading the entry list is world No. 1 Serena Williams, who won her fifth US Open crown in 2013, trying her with Steffi Graf for the second-most US Open women’s singles title in the Open Era, trailing only Chris Evert, with six. Williams has won 17 Grand Slam singles titles overall, which ranks sixth all-time, just one behind Evert and Martina Navratilova (18).

Joining Williams in the field’s top four are world No. 2 Li Na, of China, Asia’s first and only Grand Slam champion, who won her second major singles title at the 2014 Australian Open; No. 3 Simona Halep, of Romania, a 2014 French Open finalist and Wimbledon semifinalist, and No. 4 Kvitova, of the Czech Republic, who won her second Grand Slam and Wimbledon singles title earlier this month.

Following the top four are No. 5 Agnieszka Radwanska, of Poland, the first Polish player to reach a Grand Slam singles final (2012 Wimbledon); No. 6 Sharapova, of Russia, the 2006 US Open champion who won her fifth Grand Slam singles title this year at the French Open; No. 7 Eugenie Bouchard, of Canada, who reached her first Grand Slam singles final this summer at Wimbledon and also advanced to the semifinals of the French Open and Australian Open this year; No. 8 Angelique Kerber, of Germany, a two-time US Open semifinalist (2011-12); No. 9 Jelena Jankovic, of Serbia, a former world No. 1 and US Open finalist (2008), and No. 10 Victoria Azarenka, of Belarus, a former world No. 1 and two-time Australian Open champion (2012-13) who has been the US Open runner-up to Williams each of the last two years.

Ten players who have won Grand Slam singles titles in their careers are competing in the US Open this year, including former world No. 1 and 2008 French Open champion Ana Ivanovic, of Serbia, and 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone, of Italy.

France’s Virginie Razzano, ranked No. 105, is the last player accepted directly into the women’s field of 128. Two players have withdrawn due to injury, No. 82 Alisa Kleybanova, of Russia, and No. 90 Victoria Duval, of the United States, who is undergoing treatment after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. One player is using a special ranking to gain entry into the main draw – No. 40 Romina Oprandi, of Switzerland. Sixteen more players will gain entry through the US Open Qualifying Tournament, August 19-22, while the remaining eight spots are wild cards awarded by the USTA.

In addition to Serena Williams, the other American women who received direct entry into this year’s tournament include No. 22 Sloane Stephens, of Coral Springs, Fla., No. 25 Venus Williams, of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., No. 27 Madison Keys, of Rock Island, Ill., No. 41 Coco Vandeweghe, of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., No. 43 Alison Riske, of Pittsburgh, No. 44 Lauren Davis, of Gates Mills, Ohio, No. 49 Varvara Lepchenko, of Allentown, Pa., No. 51 Christina McHale, of Teaneck, N.J., No. 76 Vania King, of Monterey Park, Calif., and No. 104 Shelby Rogers, of Charleston, S.C.

Several of the young Americans listed above have had breakout performances on the WTA tour this year. Keys, 19, and Vandeweghe, 22, each won their first WTA singles titles on the same weekend this June, the first time in 12 years two American women won WTA titles in the same week. Rogers, 21, and McHale, 22, both made their first WTA final appearances, while Davis, 20, advanced to the third round of both Wimbledon and the Australian Open this year.

Among the players competing in the US Open Qualifying Tournament will be the winner of the fifth annual US Open National Playoffs – Women’s Championship, held during the Emirates Airline US Open Series event in New Haven, Conn., prior to the US Open Qualifying Tournament. The USTA created the US Open National Playoffs in 2010 to allow players 14 and older, regardless of playing ability or nationality, to vie for a spot in the US Open Qualifying Tournament via one of 13 sectional qualifying tournaments.

The July 14 edition of the WTA rankings was used to determine the US Open main draw entry list. Seeds will be determined and announced closer to the start of the event.

The 2014 US Open will mark the culmination of the Emirates Airline US Open Series, the North American summer season of eight ATP World Tour and WTA events that begin this Monday, July 21. The US Open is the highest-attended annual spring event in the world and will again be broadcast domestically on CBS Sports, ESPN and Tennis Channel, with international broadcasts reaching 180 countries.

The 2014 US Open will be played form Monday, August 25 through Monday, September 8. Tickets can be purchased: at USOpen.org; by calling Ticketmaster at 1-866-OPEN-TIX; at all Ticketmaster outlets; at the box office at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

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Second Seed Li Na Knocked Out of Wimbledon

 

 

(June 27, 2014) WIMBLEDON – Current Australian Open champion and No. 2 player, China’s Li Na is has been knocked out of Wimbledon falling 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5) to Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic in a third round match Friday on Court 1.

Li actually held a set point in the second set which she could not capitalize on.

Statistics which tell the story of the match: Li Na was 2 for 7 on break point chances with 37 unforced errors, with seven double-faults. Both women won 93 points in the match.

Li Na said that she should have prepared better for grass.

“I make a decision.  I say, Oh, maybe I should change a little bit.  I come here pretty early to try to play on the grass court,” Li said.

“I need to play some matches before the big one.”

“I believed in myself coming into this match,” Zahlavova Strycova said  “I thought I can do it. That’s what happened.”

This will be the first time the Czech has reached the second week of a major. She’ll play Caroline Wozniacki next.

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Li Na, Agniezska Radwanska and Venus Williams Reach Wimbledon Third Round

 

(June 25, 2014) WIMBLEDON – No. 2 Li Na, No. 4 Agniezska Radwanska and five-time champion Venus Williams are into the third round of Wimbledon, all women posting straight set victories on Wednesday.

Li Na took to Court No. 2 to defeat Yvonne Meusburger of Austria 6-2, 6-2.

“Can be better.  Can be bad.  You never know,” Li said about her play.

“But I was really happy the way I was hit the ball right now on the court.

Despite being placed on an outer court as the second seed, Li Na enjoys playing earlier in the day.

“I like to be the first match,” she said.  “Yesterday they showed the Centre Court and Court 1, the schedule on the TV.  I say, Go call the schedule.  Maybe I was play first, at 11:30.

“I love to be the first match.  You don’t have to wait.  If they put you in like fourth or last match, you have to wait for the match.  Whole day you couldn’t do anything.

The Chinese woman led off with two breaks of serve early in the first set and followed suit in the second for a convincing win.

Li Na hit 33 winners with 4 aces.

Li Na will play Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in the third round.

“I think the last time we meet was like in the clay court,” Li explained.  “I know she was pretty smart player.  Pretty flat.  I think it’s good for her to play on the grass court.

“For me, I think I just play my game, play more aggressive, as much as I can come to the net, follow the plan.”

Radwanska defeated Australia’s Casey Dellacqua 6-4, 6-0 on Centre Court. The woman from Poland ran up a 5-1 lead, but the Aussie won the next three games to get back on serve, then dropped her next service game at love to give the set to Radwanska.

The Polish woman was very happy to be on Centre Court, the site of her only major final. “It’s always great to be out there, especially here what I really have the best memories on the Grand Slam.

“So of course I was really looking forward to being in the Centre Court again.”

No. 30 seed Venus Williams got off to a bit of a slow start against Japan’s Kurumi Nara but won in straight sets 7-6 (4), 6-1 on Court No. 3 to earn a spot in the third round of a major for only the second time in her last 10 major tournaments.

“I think at the important points in the game I was able to lift my game a little, Williams explained.  “That’s what you really want to do.  Then also in the second set lift my game.

“I thought she played well.”

“I know that no one’s going to give me a match,” she added.  “You don’t get given a match, especially at the majors.  I knew all points I would have to work for.”

“It’s very special for me because I saw the Venus like when I was a child, Nara said.

“So it’s very happy to play with her.

The American hit 7 aces and smacked 43 winners past her opponent.

“Definitely for me it’s definitely a step in the right direction,” Williams said about making the third round.  “The thing that I just have to really work on is being on tour consistently and playing tournaments.

“Even leading up these last few months, I don’t feel I played as many matches as I would have liked, as many as my opponents.  The more you play, the more you get used to being down or up or serving things out.

“My whole goal is just to keep playing and stay as healthy as I can.”

 

 

Karen Pestaina at Wimbledon

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Li Na and Victoria Azarenka Through to the Second Round at Wimbledon

 

 

(June 23, 2014) WIMBLEDON – No. 8 Victoria Azarenka is back on track, while No. 2 Li Na was tested in the first set as both women advanced to the second round of Wimbledon on Monday.

After five months without a win due to a foot injury which kept her off the tour, Azarenka beat Miriana Lucic Baroni 6-3, 7-5 to make the second round of Wimbledon.

“Well, I’m just very happy to be able to play,” Azarenka said.  “This is what I love to do.  The best feeling is to play pain-free.  That’s what’s important for me.

“I think, you know, getting the game together and the timing, it’s all a long process.  But the important is that I’m there, you know, 100%.  My focus is there.  My desire and concentration is there.  So that’s what all I can ask for in myself

The Belarusian spoke about her recovery, “the toughest part about the time off and my rehab in particular was that I didn’t know when I was going to be able to go on the court because it was mostly a day-to-day progress and how it was going to feel.

“Some days it was getting much better.  Some days were a little bit setback.  That was the most difficult part.

“Once I start moving, I start feeling well, once I got on the court, you know, I didn’t really feel like, Oh, I’m missing about a hundred balls, but it didn’t matter, it was just important to actually hit the ball.”

Li Na photo courtesy of MiamiTennisNews.com

Li Na photo courtesy of MiamiTennisNews.com

Li Na had a 7-5, 6-2 win over Paula Kania of Poland. Na rallied to win the last four games to close the first set.

The Chinese woman said she knew nothing about her opponent coming into the match.

“Zero,” Li Na said.  “I will try to find something on the Internet, but I cannot.

“Two or three days ago I was practice with another player, and her coach say, I think she has good forehand.  I start to play her backhand today, and she didn’t miss one shot.

“So I think I need to talk to the guy later.”

 

Karen Pestaina at Wimbledon

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Li Na Ousted in First Round of French Open

Li Na photo courtesy of MiamiTennisNews.com

Li Na photo courtesy of MiamiTennisNews.com

(May 27, 2014) In less than 24 hours both reigning Australian Open singles champions find themselves victims of first round losses at the French Open. On Monday it was Stan Wawrinka, on Tuesday No. 2 Li Na fell to French woman Kristina Mladenovic 7-5, 3-6, 6-1.

It is the first time in history that both the men’s and women’s Grand Slam singles champions have lost in the first round of the next major.

Li, the 2011 Roland Garros champion had an error-filled match, 37 unforced miscues in all.

“In my mind I didn’t have any idea how to play the match,” Li told media.

“Nobody says if you’re No. 2 in the world you win all the matches. That’s tennis.”

“I don’t think it is only the bad day,” Li continued. “I think it’s probably about me. Of course the easy thing is to say today was a bad day for me, but it’s not. I’m 100% sure. The problem is me. I don’t think I’m doing well on the court. And also, even during the match, I wasn’t thinking through what I should do, especially, I didn’t follow the game plan, and even when I was standing out on the court, in my mind I didn’t have any idea how to play the match.”

For the 21-year-old Mladenovic, who won the Roland Garros Junior championship in 2009 and is currently ranked 10 in the world, this is the biggest win of her career.

Also early on Tuesday an upset on the men’s side, 11th seen Grigor Dimitrov lost to big-serving Ivo Karlovic 6-4, 7-5, 7-6 (4). Dimitrov reached the third round to Paris last year.

“Today he was all over the court,” Dimitrov said in press. “He was just hitting his shots, you know, penetrating every volley, low slice, serving really good.”

 

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Sara Errani Stuns Li Na to Reach Rome Semis

Errani photo by Christopher Levy @tennis_shots

Errani photo by Christopher Levy @tennis_shots

(May 15, 2014) Italy’s Sara Errani conquered Rome on Friday when she upset No. 2 Li Na Na 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 to reach her second straight Italian Open semifinal, much to the delight of a supportive crowd. Coming into the match Errani was 0-6 versus Li.

The No. 10 seed is trying to become the first Italian woman since Raffaella Reggi in 1984 to win Rome.

Li committed 52 unforced errors to Errani’s 21. In her post-match news conference, Li said that she threw up before the match. She told press that her illness could have been caused by pasta or allergies.

Errani will face either Jelena Jankovic or third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska in the semifinals.

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Li Na on the Cover of Time Magazine

Li Na Time

(May 15, 2014) World No. 2 Li Na is featured on the cover of the May 26 issue of TIME magazine. She was also on the cover the magazine for the 2013 TIME 100 issue, the list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

The article on the Chinese player is entitled ‘The Passion Of Li Na.” To read the article click here.

“I am really honored to be featured on the cover of TIME magazine yet again,” Li told the WTA.

“As one of the most widely read publications in the world, I am very grateful to be in the position to make an impact on the multitude of people, especially women, and to show them that if you truly believe in yourself and in your talent, and are willing to work hard, your dreams can become reality.

“‘Dare to make a breakthrough and dare to challenge all’ is my call for our young generation because self-transcendence is the true meaning of success.”

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