2014/12/22

Cilic and Pavlyuchenkova Net Moscow Titles

Marin Cilic

Marin Cilic

(October 19, 2014) U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic won the Kremlin Cup on Sunday in Moscow defeating Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 6-4 for his 13th ATP World Tour title of his career and his fourth tournament win of the season.

“After winning such a big tournament as a Grand Slam you have a lot of emotions and it’s important to bounce back and keep going,” said the big-serving Croat. “I feel this is going to be a really good push for my career. All the titles are special but this one will definitely have an important spot. It is important for my progress.

“After winning big titles, players are very motivated to play better and they are playing more [risky]. I felt also that this week I had a lot of tough matches and I was able to stay in the battle and bring out my best tennis.”

On Friday Cilic qualified for the ATP World Tour Finals in London.

Cilci is the first Croatian to win Moscow since his coach Goran Ivanisevic won in 1996.

 

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova photo courtesy of Taste of Tennis

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova photo courtesy of Taste of Tennis

On the ladies side, Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova beat Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu 6-4, 5-7, 6-1 to win the women’s title.

“It’s just the best possible way to end the season,” the home town heroine Pavlyuchenkova said. “It was a really tough match. I just couldn’t have lost at home.”

She is the first Russian woman to win the Kremlin Cup since Elena Dementieva did it in 2007.

For Pavlyuchenkova it’s her seventh title of her career and the second of 2014, having also won at the Paris Indoors.

“After the second set I knew I had to be more energetic and intense out there,” said the Russian. “I knew I had to play my aggressive game and just do something, otherwise she’d be too good. She was playing so well the whole week. The surface really fit her game. I just needed to stop thinking about the score and go for it. I’m happy I could regroup in the third set and win this title at home. I’m extremely happy.”
“It was a great week,” said Begu. “I beat some really good players and this gives me a lot of confidence. She took her chances to step in and dictating the points, so it wasn’t my day. At the same time, I enjoyed the final and did the best that I could.”

 

Pavlyuchenkova and Begu are projected to rise in the ranking to No.25 and No.42 respectively when rankings are released on Monday.
Russian Tennis Federation president Shamil Tarpischev was absent from the trophy presentation. He was banned for a year by the WTA on Friday over comments about the Williams sisters. He attended the men’s trophy presentation.

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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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Serena Williams Responds to Shamil Tarpischev Comments

 

(October 19, 2014) In her pre-tournament news conference at the WTA Finals in Singapore, Serena Williams responded to comments by Shamil Tarpischev, the head of the Russian Tennis Federation, who referred to Serena Williams and her sister Venus as the “Williams brothers.”

“I think the WTA did a great job of taking initiative and taking immediate action to his comments,” Williams said. “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 Tarpischev’s comments.

“I think they were very disrespectful and uncalled for, and I’m glad that many people have stood up, including the WTA,” said the Russian, world No. 2. “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.”

 

On Friday, the WTA Tour levied a $25,000 dollar fine and a year suspension. They also called for Tarpischev to be removed from his post as Chairman of the Kremlin Cup for a year.

Update: WTA Fines and Suspends Shamil Tarpischev for Williams Sisters Comments

The comments were made on a late night Russian TV talk show.

The 33-year-old world No. 1 Williams begins her quest to “three-peat” at the WTA Finals on Monday when she begins round-robin competition in the Red Group against Ana Ivanovic.

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Beck Wins Luxembourg Open, First-Ever WTA Title

(October 18, 2014) Annika Beck became the 14th player on the WTA Tour to win her first title in 2014. The 20-year-old German ranked 60th in the world defeated the fourth seed, Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in the final of the Luxembourg Open 6-2, 6-1 on Saturday. Beck did not drop a set on her way to her fist title.

“It’s an amazing feeling to win my first WTA title,” Beck said. “I played the final last year and I said I’d do anything to win the title this year, and it’s an unbelievable feeling to actually do it. I enjoyed every moment I had on the center court. It’s really exciting.”

Beck broke her opponent’s serve seven times in the 93-minute match.

“I’m sad today, but overall it was a great, great week,” said the runner-up. “I was playing well this week. I had my chances today too – unfortunately I couldn’t take them, but this is sport.”

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Update: WTA Fines and Suspends Shamil Tarpischev for Williams Sisters Comments

 

 

(October 17, 2014) Before this week’s Kremlin Cup in Moscow, Russian Tennis Federation President Shamil Tarpischev during the taping of a Russian late-night television show called Evening Urgant, called Venus and Serena Williams “brothers.“

The WTA has come down on Tarpischev fining him the maximum allowed under the WTA tour rules, $25,000 and suspending him from tour for a year for his comments about Serena and Venus Williams.

The WTA Tour wants Tarpischev to be stripped from his position as chairman of the Kremlin Cup tournament for one year.

Here are the full statements from WTA Chairman and CEO Stacey Allaster and US Tennis Association President, Chairman and CEO Dave Haggerty.

 

 

Media preview

 

USTA response to recent comments by Shamil Tarpischev regarding the Williams sisters

“As the President of the USTA and a member of the Board of Directors of the International Tennis Federation, I call on Shamil Tarpischev to issue a formal apology to Venus and Serena Williams. As the President of the Russian Tennis Federation and a member of the International Olympic Committee, Mr. Tarpischev is expected to conduct himself with the highest degree of integrity and sportsmanship. Unfortunately, his comments do not embody either of these traits and in fact were reprehensible.”

— Dave Haggerty, President, Chairman and CEO, USTA

 

October 18, 2014 Update: An official statement from the Russian Tennis Federation and Tarpischev was released on Sunday.

The Associated Press reported on the statement, here are a few excerpts:

Tarpischev: Williams comments meant as jokes

Asked whether he regretted his comments, Tarpischev told The Associated Press at the Kremlin Cup that the program on which he spoke was “a humorous show,” adding: “I don’t answer stupid questions.”

When asked about his ban, Tarpischev said: “I can’t comment. I don’t understand it.”

In a statement released later by the Russian Tennis Federation, Tarpischev denied any “malicious intent” and said his quotes had been taken out of context.

“I didn’t want to offend any athlete with my words,” he said. “I regret that this joke … has garnered so much attention. I don’t think this incident deserves so much fuss.”

The Williams sisters are “outstanding athletes” who “personify strength and perseverance,” he added.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told the ITAR-Tass agency that he regretted that Tarpischev had made the comments and that his suspension was “an unpleasant fact,” but suggested his sanction should be reduced.

“It’s probably worth trying to get the punishment softened,” Mutko said.

 

 

Courtesy of the WTA

Courtesy of the WTA WTAtennis.com Posted on October 19, 2014

 

Related story:

Serena Williams Responds to Shamil Tarpischev Comments

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Karolina Pliskova Saves a Match Point to Claim Second Title of the Year in Linz

Generali_Ladies_Linz_logo

(October 12, 2014) Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic came back from a match point down before defeating Italy’s Camila Giorgi of Italy 6-7 (4), 6-3, 7-6 (4) to win the Generali Ladies event on Sunday.

Pliskova served for the match twice in the third set and saved a match point at 5-6 in the third set.

“It’s an amazing feeling to come back from a match point,” said the Czech. This was Pliskova’s third WTA title, second in as many months. She has three career WTA titles.

“It could have been a little easier, but I’m still happy I won the title!,” Pliskoova said. “After I was 5-1 up and she came back and had match point, I was already thinking I would lose, and that I would cry afterwards! But she was playing so well in that part of the third set. Before that she was making so many mistakes, but she stopped doing that and calmed down, and she played so much better there.”

The 30th ranked Pliskova was the only seed left in the tournament after the first round. The top two seeds Eugenie Bouchard and No. 2 Ana Ivanovic withdrew with injuries, while Dominika Cibulkova, Andrea Petkovic and Sabine Lisicki all lost.

Pliskova is now 16-3 since the US Open.

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Riske Wins Tianjin for First WTA Title

Alison Riske photo by Steve Fogleman

Alison Riske photo by Steve Fogleman

(October 12, 2014) Sixth seeded Alison Riske defeated third seed Belinda Bencic 6-3, 6-4 in the final of the Tianjin Open on Sunday for her first WTA Tour title.

“It’s a huge accomplishment for me to win my first WTA title, and I was here by myself, which made it even more special, just to know that I was able to do it by myself,” said the American Riske. “I hope I can keep up the momentum and try to compete every week as best as I can. Obviously there was a little momentum change in the second set. But that was because Belinda upped her level at that point. She’s been playing so well this year and has a really bright future ahead of her. I knew coming into the match that it would be a battle and it really was.”
Benic, the 17-year-old Swiss, playing in her first final, was trying to become the youngest woman to win a tournament since 15-year-old Tamira Paszek won the Portoroz title in 2006.

 

Riske is now the fifth American to win a WTA title in 2014, joining  Serena Williams  Venus Williams, Madison Keys and Coco Vandeweghe.

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Stosur Wins Third Japan Open Title

(October 12, 2014) Defending champion Sam Stosur won her third Japan Women’s Open title on Sunday, pushing back Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan 7-6 (9-7), 6-3.

“Zarina played very good match today,” said the 30-year-old Australian Stosur who saved two set points in the first set. “She managed to put me under a lot of pressure and returned serve really well. She gets to a lot of balls and can put you under pressure. You have to be out there and try to attack.”

“It was my first final so I am happy with how I played, said the 20-year-old. “She served very well and it was tough, especially on those set points. But this was a great experience for me.”

“Trying to serve out a set in a final, I don’t know if maybe she was a little nervous but I tried to play a little bit more aggressive or put a bit more on my shots to make her come up with something else, Stosur said.”

It’s Stosur’s sixth career title and half of them have come in Osaka.

Sam Stosur

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Petra Kvitova Wins Wuhan Open and Qualifies for WTA Year End Championships

Petra Kvitova

(September 27, 2014) In a rematch of the Wimbledon final staged in July, Petra Kvitova defeated Eugenie Bouchard 6-3, 6-4 to claim the inaugural Wuhan Open in China on Saturday.

With the win, the third seeded Czech player has qualified for the season-ending WTA finals in Singapore, along with Serena Williams, Simona Halep and Maria Sharapova.

“I knew that I have to play a little bit more aggressive than I played the matches before,” Kvitova said about playing her Canadian opponent. “I need to play a similar game as in Wimbledon, very aggressively going for the shots.”

This was 24-year-old Kvitova’s third title of the year and her first win over a top 10 player on the year.

“It’s been a great week, said the 20-year-old Bouchard. “First of all, of course, I have to congratulate Petra. She’s beaten me in two finals this year, so I will have to figure out what to do to beat her now!”

In the doubles final, Martina Hingis and Flavia Pennetta won their first title as a team defeating Cara Black and Caroline Garcia 6-4, 5-7, 12-10, saving two match points.

“There aren’t many places I can say I’m coming to for the first time in my 20 years of playing,” Hingis said. “And I really loved this tournament. I really enjoyed every moment. It’s just been a fantastic week.”

For Hingis this was her 39th WTA doubles title.

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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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