WUHAN, China – Li Na’s post-retirement media tour brought her to Wuhan on Tuesday, where she met the press and answered questions about her career, her future and the future of Chinese tennis.
There was more, though. In front of thousands of fans and tournament staff, and with good friend and fellow WTA star Caroline Wozniacki helping out, Li was given a special on-court goodbye ceremony, even receiving a bouquet of flowers on behalf of the players who adored her so much in her career.
Li was also taken on a tour of the brand new tennis complex that was built for the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open. Guided by Tournament Director Yi Guoqing, Li was shown around the Optics Valley International Tennis Center, which was built entirely in one year and which will have a new center court next year that seats 15,000 spectators. The new center court is currently under construction.
But even without that, the WTA stars have been loving the new Premier-level event.
“I don’t think a lot of players knew so much about Wuhan, but to come here and see a structure that’s simply been built for an event like this, the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open, a global event with so many players participating, it’s very impressive, I must say,” Maria Sharapova said about the venue.
Sharapova, who shares an agent with Li and has been at the top of the game right alongside her over the last several years, was also asked her feelings about the Chinese’s exit from the sport.
“It’s obviously a very big loss for tennis in general all around the world, and specifically here in China, where Li Na has been so influential for so many years,” she said. “And she brought all of us here to Wuhan, so I think it’s a little extra sad that she won’t be participating at the event this year.
“But I think she can look back at her career with a big smile on her face at everything that she’s achieved. And all the injuries she’s gone through, that shows how much dedication she had for what she did and her passion for the sport that she was able to keep coming back and doing so well.
“I think everyone should be proud of her achievements and put up a good event for her.”
Now, at the age of 32, I want to thank the Li Na at the age of 15. It’s because of the perseverance in my youth that I was able to achieve my goals. | Li Na
via WTA Tennis News