May 4, 2016

It is Li Na or Na Li?

Li Na of China raises the trophy after winning her women’s final against Francesca Schiavone of Italy at the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris June 4, 2011. REUTERS/Charles Platiau (FRANCE – Tags: SPORT TENNIS)



It is Li Na or Na Li?

By Dave Seminara

The scoreboard on your television set lists her last name as Li. As does the French Open draw, and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) web site.  After winning the French, the chair umpire referred to her at Na Li. So why is the French Open Champion referred to in print media and by commentators as Li Na? Is it Li Na, or Na Li? Her first name is Li, and her family name is Na, but they don’t always follow in that order. Confused?


In China, along with other East Asian countries, and Hungary, surnames are used first, and so the W.T.A. is using Li Na’s name as she would use it in China.  A spokesperson for the W.T.A. said that all of the Chinese tennis players names are listed as they are in China, surname first, given name second.


Oddly enough, though, when it comes to Japanese and Hungarian players, who also use their last name, followed by their first name in their home countries, the WTA reverts back to the Western custom of given name, then family name. The men’s tour uses the Western-style across the board.