17th in all-time rankings
9 WTA, 19 ITF
No. 2 (17 February 2014)
Grand Slam Singles results
QF (2006, 2010, 2013)
SF – 4th (2008)
2 WTA, 16 ITF
No. 54 (28 August 2006)
Grand Slam Doubles results
2R (2006, 2007)
2R (2006, 2007)
Other doubles tournaments
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Li (李).
Li Na (born 26 February 1982) is a retired Chinese professional tennis
player, who achieved a career-high WTA-ranking of world No. 2 on 17
February 2014. Over the course of her career, Li won seven WTA singles
titles and two Grand Slam singles titles at the 2011
French Open and
2014 Australian Open. Li's rise to prominence came after those
victories, which made her the first and only Grand Slam singles
champion from Asia. Prior to this, she had already become the first
player representing an Asian country to appear in a Grand Slam singles
final, a milestone she achieved at the 2011 Australian Open. Li was
also the runner-up at the 2013
Australian Open and 2013 WTA Tour
Championships, a three-time quarterfinalist at Wimbledon and a
semifinalist at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and 2013 US Open. Among
her other most notable accolades, she was the first Chinese player to
win a WTA tour title at the
Guangzhou International Women's Open in
2004, the first to reach a Grand Slam singles quarterfinal at the 2006
Wimbledon Championships, and the first to break into the world's top
10. Her feats have sparked a major population growth of tennis players
in East Asia, earning her the reputation as the region's tennis
pioneer and trailblazer.
Li retired from professional tennis on 19 September 2014.
1 Personal life
2.1 1999–2002: Dominance on the ITF Circuit
2.2 2004–2005: Successful Return to Professional Tennis
2.3 2006: First Chinese Grand Slam Quarter-Finalist
2.5 2010: First Grand Slam Semifinal & Ascent to Top 10
2.6 2011: Major Breakthrough & Historic Victory at French Open
2.7 2012: First Premiere 5 Event Champion
2.8 2013: Second
Australian Open Final, Return to Top Four &
Year-End No. 3
Australian Open Champion and Retirement
3 Popularity and endorsements
4 Playing style
5.1 Li vs. Sharapova
5.2 Li vs. Radwańska
5.3 Li vs. Clijsters
5.4 Li vs. Azarenka
6 Career statistics
6.1 Grand Slam finals
6.1.1 Singles: 4 (2 titles, 2 runners-up)
6.2 Olympic Games
6.2.1 Singles: 1 Bronze Medal match
6.3 Grand Slam Singles performance timeline
6.4 Grand Slam Doubles performance timeline
7 See also
9 Further reading
10 External links
Li Na was born on 26 February 1982 in Wuhan, Hubei, China. Her mother
is Li Yanping (李豔萍); her father, Li Shengpeng (李盛鵬),
was a professional badminton player and later worked as a sales rep
for an Wuhan-based company. He died from a rare cardiovascular disease
when Li was fourteen. Her mother didn't tell
Li Na that her father had
died for many weeks, thinking it would affect her game.
At age six, Li followed her father's footsteps and started playing
badminton, which honed her reflexes. Just before she turned eight,
Li was persuaded to switch to tennis by coach Xia Xiyao of the Wuhan
youth tennis club. Her instructors taught tennis through negative
reinforcement, which affected Li's confidence in later years. Li
joined China's National
Tennis Team in 1997. The following year, Li,
sponsored by Nike, went to John Newcombe Academy in Texas to study
tennis. She studied there for 10 months and returned to China.
Growing up, her favourite tennis player was Andre Agassi. She
turned professional in 1999 at the age of sixteen.
At the end of 2002, Li left the national tennis team to study
Huazhong University of Science and Technology
Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST),
where she completed her bachelor's degree in journalism in 2009. The
Chinese media cited various reasons for this. Some reported that the
relationship between her and her teammate and future husband, Jiang
Shan (姜山), was opposed by the national team's management, some
reported that her coach, Yu Liqiao (余丽桥), was too strict and
demanding, while other reports claimed that her request for a personal
coach did not go through. However, some regarded that it was
just the health problem leading to the retirement. The New York
Times reported that one of the reasons was that a team leader wanted
her to play through by taking hormone medicine as Li struggled with
her performance due to hormone imbalance.
Li returned to the national team in 2004. Jiang Shan married Li on 27
January 2006, and became her personal coach. Li quit the national
team as well as the state-run sports system in 2008 under an
experimental reform policy for tennis players. This change was called
"Fly Solo" (单飞) by Chinese media. As a result, Li had the
freedom to hire her own coaching staff and she would be solely
responsible for the cost of training and coaching and tour expense.
She could keep more of her winnings, with only 8 percent of her
winnings going to the Chinese
Tennis Association development fund as
opposed to 65 percent previously. In the summer of 2012, the
requirement of contribution to the Chinese tennis development fund was
lifted and Li kept all her prize money.
On 5 June 2016,
Li Na was commissioned by
Special Olympics as a Global
Li has a rose tattoo on her chest, but kept it hidden for many years
since tattoos are widely considered unacceptable in China, especially
On 19 January 2015,
Li Na announced that she and her husband were
expecting their first child. She gave birth to her daughter Alisa
on 3 June 2015, a day out from the 4th anniversary of her French
1999–2002: Dominance on the ITF Circuit
Li turned professional in 1999, and won three of the first four
singles tournaments she entered on the ITF Circuit, two at Shenzhen
and one at Westende, Belgium. She also won all of her first seven ITF
doubles tournaments she entered.
In 2000, she won 52 singles matches on the ITF circuit, more than any
other player, notching another eight tournament titles, including one
at the $50,000 level, two at $25,000, and a run of four $10,000
tournament wins in March and April.
Notable individual victories in the course of the year included wins
over Flavia Pennetta, Emmanuelle Gagliardi, Maria Elena Camerin,
Tamarine Tanasugarn and Yayuk Basuki.
In June, after Li's world ranking had risen to No. 136 on the strength
of her ITF performances alone, she gained direct entry into her first
WTA Tour event at Tashkent. Despite winning the first set, Li lost her
first WTA singles match to
Anna Zaporozhanova in three sets, but she
captured the women's doubles title at
Tashkent with Li Ting against
Zaporozhanova and Iroda Tulyaganova.
By the end of 2000, Li had won four WTA singles matches, this brought
her cumulative ITF singles title count up to 11. That year, she also
won seven more ITF doubles events, 6 of them with Li Ting.
Li was mostly absent from the tour in 2001. She won two further
$25,000 ITF singles tournaments, defeating
Roberta Vinci in the final
at Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and
Liu Nannan in the final at Guangzhou
in July, but then played only one further match for the rest of the
year, leading her ranking to fall to no. 303 by the year's close.
She won her 15th career ITF doubles tournament at Hangzhou in March.
In 2002, she came through qualifying to win her first $75,000 singles
tournament at Midland, USA in February, defeating Laura Granville,
Tatiana Perebiynis, and
Mashona Washington en route to the title, the
14th of her career. But she then played only one more match (a loss to
Zuzana Ondrášková in the $50,000 event at Dinan,
April), followed by a lengthy absence from the circuit for the next 25
Sources vary as to the causes of this absence, the Chinese media
mostly cited the conflict between her and the China's National Tennis
Team's administration and coaching staff. Some claimed
that she just wanted a break from professional tennis so she could
concentrate on her studies at university.
2004–2005: Successful Return to Professional Tennis
In May 2004, Li returned to competition after having not played since
2002. Although she was unranked, she won 26 successive matches to
notch three further $25,000 tournament wins and another $50,000 title,
increasing her career singles title count to 18, only to have her
winning streak finally snapped by
Evgenia Linetskaya in the semifinal
of the $50,000 Bronx tournament that August. However, she won her 16th
ITF doubles tournament at the same event, the 17th overall doubles
title of her career.
That September, she lost in the final of a $25,000 tournament to
compatriot Zheng Jie, before returning to the WTA circuit, thanks to a
wildcard entry into qualifying at the Beijing. There, she defeated
Antonella Serra Zanetti, Marta Domachowska, and
Nicole Pratt before
losing in the deciding-set tie-break after a very close second-round
main-draw tussle against newly crowned US Open Champion Svetlana
Kuznetsova, during which she held match points against Kuznetsova. The
Russian afterwards praised her Chinese opponent, stating that she had
felt as though she was up against a top-5 player.
The very next week, Li battled her way through qualifying into the WTA
event at Guangzhou (a Tier IV event at the time, though since has been
upgraded to Tier III), then beat Vera Dushevina, Jelena Janković,
Kristina Brandi, and Li Ting in the main draw to reach the final,
where she overcame
Martina Suchá to win her first
WTA Tour title. By
doing so, Li became the first Chinese tennis player to win a WTA
On the back of the ranking points accrued through this result, on 4
October 2004, she broke into the WTA top 100 for the first time.
To cap off her most successful year as a singles player yet, she
competed in two $50,000 ITF tournaments at Shenzhen, winning the first
outright to bring her the 19th ITF singles title and 20th overall
singles title of her career, but losing in the quarterfinals of the
second to lower-ranked country-woman Yan Zi. These results elevated Li
Na to world No. 80 by the close of the year, a year in which she won
51 singles matches and lost just four.
2005 saw Li finally abandoning the ITF circuit to focus solely on
WTA-level events. She began the year with a second-round performance
at Gold Coast and a semifinal showing at Hobart, but losing to fellow
Chinese player and eventual tournament champion Zheng Jie. She then
made her Grand Slam debut at the 2005 Australian Open, advancing to
the third round with wins over
Laura Granville and Shinobu Asagoe
before losing to Maria Sharapova. In early February, she reached the
quarterfinals at Hyderabad and qualified for Doha where she was
narrowly beaten by
Patty Schnyder in the first round of the main draw.
After a victory over
Ai Sugiyama in the first round at Dubai the
following week, it was Schnyder once again who stopped her from
reaching the later stages of the event.
After taking a month off from competition, Li returned at Estoril in
late April, defeating Stéphanie Cohen-Aloro, Nicole Pratt, Dally
Randriantefy, and then crushing
Dinara Safina to reach her second WTA
Tour final. Li was denied the title by Czech qualifier Lucie
Šafářová, who prevailed in a close three-set match. At Rabat in
May, Li reached the semifinal stage, but further success ultimately
proved elusive for her. With the score leveled at 3–3, she retired
due to a right ankle sprain while clashing with Zheng Jie. Reaching
this semifinal propelled her to a career-high singles ranking of world
No. 33, but the injury she had sustained was destined to keep her out
of action for the next three months. On her return at Los Angeles in
August, she fell in the first round to
Anna Chakvetadze of Russia. The
following week, however, at the Canadian Open, she once more beat
Jelena Janković and María Vento-Kabchi, before losing to Nadia
Petrova in the third round.
Lindsay Davenport who proved her undoing in her next two
tournaments, beating her in the first round of the US Open, and at the
semifinal stage in Bali in September, but not before
Li Na had avenged
her previous year's defeat by Yan Zi in the second round of the same
tournament. The following week, another highly ranked American player,
Jill Craybas, narrowly defeated
Li Na in a close three-set first-round
match at Beijing.
Li Na commenced her defense of her Guangzhou title;
but she was prevented from completing it in the quarterfinals by
eventual champion Yan Zi, who thereby edged out in front in their
head-to-head record once again. This second loss in three
head-to-heads against Yan proved to be Li's last match of 2005; and in
her absence from the
Shenzhen $50,000 tournaments where she had
notched up some ranking points late the previous year, she found
herself slipping further in the rankings from the high-point of No. 33
that she had reached in the spring before her injury break, to No. 56
at the year's close.
2006: First Chinese Grand Slam Quarter-Finalist
With nearly all her remaining ranking points to defend concentrated in
a little over the first four months of the year,
Li Na began the year
faced with the challenge of equaling her strong results from the early
part of 2005 in order to maintain her position in the middle reaches
of the WTA top 100. Early-round draws against high-ranked players
towards the beginning of 2006 took a heavy toll on Li's singles
ranking, bringing it slipping down to no. 71 by the end of February.
She returned with a career-best performance at Tier I events by
reaching the semifinal at Berlin. On the way there, she achieved her
first victory over a current top-10-ranked player as she ousted Patty
Schnyder for the first time at the quarterfinal stage. However, this
match left her with a muscle sprain, and she lost to
Nadia Petrova in
the semifinal. Nonetheless, her performance at this high-level
tournament saw her ranked no. 39. Joining the WTA grass-court season
for the first time at the DFS Classic tournament at
June, she managed another third-round finish with wins over Mashona
Washington and grass-court specialist Eleni Daniilidou, both in
straight sets, then lost for the third time in three meetings to Maria
Sharapova. Her ranking following this tournament was no. 30, which was
at that time the highest ever ranking achieved by a Chinese woman.
At the same event, partnering Jelena Janković, she notched up her
second career WTA doubles title, almost exactly six years from her
first at Tashkent. An early retirement against
Alona Bondarenko in the
first round of the Ondina Open at 's-Hertogenbosch the following week
curtailed her final competitive preparations for her debut appearance
at Wimbledon. But with an entry ranking of 30th, she found herself
seeded 27th after some withdrawals, and thus achieved another first
for her country in becoming the first Chinese woman ever to be seeded
for entry into a Grand Slam tournament.
At Wimbledon, she reached the fourth round with comfortable
straight-sets wins over respected grass-court players Virginie Razzano
Birmingham semifinalist Meilen Tu, followed by victory
against 10th seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova, resulting in her being the
first Chinese player ever to reach any Grand Slam quarterfinal. Li
rose to a new career high WTA ranking of no. 20 following the
tournament, even though she ultimately lost her quarterfinal match
Kim Clijsters in two close sets. She reached the quarterfinals
at Stockholm, and the fourth round at the US Open, where, as the 24th
seed, she was beaten by eventual champion
Maria Sharapova in two sets.
She then reached the quarterfinals at the
China Open, where she was
beaten by Svetlana Kuznetsova, and in Guangzhou.
Li Na at 2008 Fortis Championships Luxembourg
Li Na started the year by participating a Tier III event in Gold
Coast, Australia, where she reached the second round. The next week,
she competed in Sydney. She defeated
Francesca Schiavone in the first
Elena Dementieva in the second, saving five match points, and
Katarina Srebotnik in the quarterfinal. Then, she made it to the
semifinals, losing a tough match to Kim Clijsters, 5–7 in the third
set. However, she rose to a career high of no.16 afterwards.
Li Na followed her strong showing at the Medibank tournament with an
equally strong showing at the 2007 Australian Open, where she advanced
to the fourth round. Seeded 19th, Li dispatched
Elena Bovina and
Lourdes Domínguez Lino
Lourdes Domínguez Lino in straight sets through the first two rounds,
leading to a matchup with no. 9 Dinara Safina. The match was postponed
due to rain, but Li handily beat Safina to advance to the fourth round
to play Swiss star, no. 6 Martina Hingis. Due to a rain delay and the
fact that Hingis played on Rod Laver Arena, a roofed court, on the
originally scheduled day, Hingis had an extra day of rest. The match
the previous day seemed to have no effect, as Li took the first set
from Hingis. However, Na faded as the match went on and lost while
committing 69 unforced errors. Despite the loss, the tournament was a
success for Na, as it marked the third straight time in a Grand Slam
that she advanced at least to the fourth round.
At the Tier I
Pan Pacific Open
Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, Japan, Li advanced to the
second round, defeating
Lilia Osterloh before losing to Samantha
Stosur in two sets, converting 0 of 11 break points. At the important
Pacific Life Open
Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells, California, Li made a strong
showing, advancing to the semifinals. She lost to Daniela Hantuchová
in the semifinal. She continued her good form at the Miami Masters,
losing just three games in her first two matches against Tamira Paszek
and Katarina Srebotnik, before stunning fourth-seeded
Kim Clijsters in
three sets. She then lost in the quarterfinals to Anna Chakvetadze.
She then moved onto the green clay of Amelia Island, where she
suffered a shock second-round exit, after receiving a first round bye,
to former top-20 player
Karolina Šprem in straight sets. At the
Family Circle Cup
Family Circle Cup held in Charleston, South Carolina, she fell in the
third round to Anabel Medina Garrigues. After losing in a grass
tune-up event in Birmingham, Li pulled out of every tournament she was
to play in the summer, including Wimbledon and the US Open, citing a
Li Na at the 2008 Wimbledon Championships
Li Na had not played a professional match in half a year and had
resultantly slipped to No. 29 in the WTA rankings when she returned
from her rib injury in January 2008 to compete at the 2008 Mondial
Australian Women's Hardcourts in Gold Coast, Australia. In the first
round, she narrowly defeated seventh seed Sybille Bammer. After a
comfortable second round victory over wildcard Monique Adamczak, she
was drawn to meet the top seed
Nicole Vaidišová in the
quarterfinals. Li won their encounter in straight sets, advancing to
the semifinals, where she edged past Patty Schnyder. In the final,
she narrowly prevailed against Victoria Azarenka, not only ending her
3-year title drought (since Guangzhou 2004) but scoring her second WTA
singles title of her career.
Despite rising back up to world No. 24 following this victory, she
then withdrew from the 2008
Medibank International in Sydney, after
suffering a right knee injury. Her failure to defend her previous
year's semifinal performance at this event cost her 125 ranking
points, which dipped her ranking back down to no. 30 for the week
beginning 14 January. Going into the 2008 Australian Open, she had a
further 140 ranking points to defend from her fourth-round performance
in 2007. Faced with a relatively lenient draw in the early rounds, she
survived a close three-set tussle with
Séverine Brémond in the first
round, before surpassing
Maria Elena Camerin
Maria Elena Camerin in straight sets in round
two. A revitalised
Marta Domachowska remained between her and the
defence of her ranking points, and although
Li Na won the first set
convincingly, she faltered thereafter and finally ceded the match to
her Polish opponent by a single break of serve in the closely fought
Having slipped three places to world No. 33 by the time she entered
the Tier II tournament at
Antwerp in early February, she nonetheless
progressed to the semifinals with back-to-back-to-back straight-sets
wins over Russian veteran Elena Likhovtseva, Slovak world No. 45
Dominika Cibulková, and on-form Swedish world No. 66 Sofia Arvidsson.
However, she withered in the semifinals against world No. 47 Karin
Knapp, despite having taken an early lead with a break of service in
the first set, ultimately ceding the match to her Italian opponent in
two sets. This tournament brought her back up within the top 30 at
world No. 29.
The next week in the Tier I 2008 Qatar Total Open, Li met Likhovtseva
again in the first round. This time, after taking the first set
comfortably, she was challenged to a much tougher battle, but
eventually won in three sets. In round 2, she scored her second
straight-sets victory in four career head-to-heads against Russian
world No. 6 Anna Chakvetadze, saving a set point in the first set
tie-break, before recovering to win. In the third round, she enjoyed a
more comfortable victory over Israeli world No. 17 Shahar Pe'er,
recovering from a 1–3 deficit in the second set. In the
quarterfinals, she met her old rival and friend world No. 4 Jelena
Janković, coming into the match with a winning 3–1 head-to-head
record to her credit against the Serbian player. By defeating
Janković she extended this record to 4:1 and moved into the
semifinals, where she played Vera Zvonareva, against whom she had won
both of her previous encounters. Despite taking the first set, Li lost
the second by the same scoreline; and although she was 3–2 up in the
final set, she then ceded four successive games to her opponent to
lose the match.
Her ranking having risen back to no. 23 on the strength of this
performance, she was prevented from consolidating on this recovery by
suffering a right knee injury, which forced her to pull out of her
scheduled entries into both the Tier II event at
Bangalore in early
March and the Tier I tournament at Indian Wells in the middle of the
month. She returned to action at the
International Women's Open in
Eastbourne, winning one round before losing to Nadia Petrova. She then
contested Wimbledon, defeating
Anastasia Rodionova before losing to
At the Beijing Olympics, following early-round victories against world
No. 3 Svetlana Kuznetsova, Ayumi Morita, and Kaia Kanepi, she went on
to defeat one of the favourites, Venus Williams, in the quarterfinals.
Li was trailing 1–4 in the first set, but managed to strengthen her
game to win in straight sets. Li lost her semifinal match to sixth
Dinara Safina and was then defeated in the bronze final by Vera
Zvonareva. At the following US Open, Li was defeated by the Beijing
Olympics gold medalist
Elena Dementieva in the fourth round.
In the 2008 Porsche Grand Prix, the unseeded Li defeated no. 1 ranked
Serena Williams in the second round in three sets. Li thus became only
the second Chinese player to defeat a world No. 1 player, following
Zheng Jie's victory over
Ana Ivanovic at Wimbledon in 2008.
Li Na at the 2009 US Open
Li withdrew from both the inaugural Brisbane International, where she
was defending champion (as she won the title at Gold Coast in 2008),
Australian Open because of a right-knee injury. She made her
comeback at the Paris Open. In the first round, she beat Ágnes
Szávay, but in the second round she lost to second-seeded Jelena
In the first round of the Barclays Dubai
Tennis Championships, Li lost
Elena Vesnina in three sets. Unseeded at the Monterrey
Open, she defeated world No. 10 and top seed
Agnieszka Radwańska in a
first round match that lasted over two hours. In the second round, she
Petra Cetkovská and then advanced to the semifinals after
defeating Lucie Šafářová. Li then moved into her fifth career tour
final, after beating sixth-seeded Iveta Benešová. However, Li lost
Marion Bartoli in the final in straight sets. Li then
played in the Premier event at Indian Wells, where she defeated
Tamarine Tanasugarn, Patty Schnyder, and Amélie Mauresmo, all in
straight sets, to advance to the fourth round, where she lost to
eventual champion Vera Zvonareva.
She then reached the quarterfinals of the Premier event in Miami,
where she beat qualifier
Urszula Radwańska in the first round and
upset 29th seed
Aleksandra Wozniak to reach the third round, where she
caused a big upset by defeating the previous week's Indian Wells
Vera Zvonareva in three sets. This victory was
particularly important for Li, as she had been beaten by Zvonareva the
week before at Indian Wells. She then faced unseeded Russian Ekaterina
Makarova in the fourth round and beat her in three sets to set up a
quarterfinal match with the top seed and world No. 1 Serena Williams,
a match which she lost in a tight three-setter. Because of her strong
performance, her ranking went up to world No. 29 from world No. 40.
Na's next event was the second Grand Slam of the year, the French Open
in Paris. As the 25th seed, she won her first round against Polish
Marta Domachowska. She then defeated
Timea Bacsinszky and Olga
Govortsova. She then lost to unseeded, former world No. 1 Maria
Sharapova in the fourth round. After this impressive result, she
jumped six rankings up to no. 20. She started her grass-court season
as the fourth seed at the Aegon Classic in
Birmingham and advanced to
the final with a win over
Maria Sharapova in the semifinals. However,
Na was defeated by
Magdaléna Rybáriková in the final. Na was seeded
19th at the 2009 Wimbledon Championships. She defeated Galina
Voskoboeva in the first round and
Olga Govortsova in the second round,
but lost to No. 11
Agnieszka Radwańska in the third round.
At the 2009 Bank of the West Classic, she lost to
Serena Williams in
the first round, and at the 2009 LA Women's
Tennis Championships p/b
Herbalife, she withdrew due to injury during her match with Urszula
Radwańska of Poland. Seeded 18th at the 2009 US Open, she reached her
first US Open quarterfinals, where she lost to eventual champion Kim
Clijsters. En route to the quarterfinals, she defeated Ioana Raluca
Olaru, Michelle Larcher de Brito, Maria Kirilenko, and Francesca
Schiavone all in straight sets. Seeded 15th at the Toray Pan Pacific
Li Na won her opening match against Alizé Cornet. She then
Vera Dushevina before beating Kateryna Bondarenko. In the
quarterfinal, she defeated
Victoria Azarenka in three sets, two of
which were tiebreaks where though she failed in serving for the match
twice in the last set. Li lost in the semifinals to Jelena Janković.
Li finished the year at world No. 15, her career-high year-end
2010: First Grand Slam Semifinal & Ascent to Top 10
Li Na at the 2010 Porsche
Tennis Grand Prix
Li's first tournament of 2010 was the
2010 ASB Classic in Auckland,
where she was seeded second. She was defeated by
Kaia Kanepi in the
first round. In the Medibank International, she defeated fourth seed
Caroline Wozniacki but lost to
Flavia Pennetta in the second round.
Li was seeded 16th at the 2010 Australian Open. She defeated world No.
Caroline Wozniacki in the fourth round and then came from a set and
3–5 down to defeat world No. 6 Venus Williams, in her first
Australian Open quarterfinal and only her third Major quarterfinal. In
the semifinals, she lost to
Serena Williams in two highly competitive
tiebreaks. As a result of this performance, Li was the first Chinese
woman ever to be ranked in the top 10 of women's professional
At the Barclays Dubai
Tennis Championships, Li, the eighth seed,
María José Martínez Sánchez
María José Martínez Sánchez in the second round. She then
came from a 6–3, 5–2 deficit to defeat
Marion Bartoli in the third
round. Li was forced to retire in her quarterfinals match against
Shahar Pe'er. Li continued her season at the inaugural Malaysian Open.
As second seed, she fell to
Tatjana Malek in the first round. As
seventh seed at the 2010 BNP Paribas Open, Li fell to Elena Baltacha
in the second round. Li was 8th seed at the 2010 Sony Ericsson Open,
but fell to
Timea Bacsinszky in the second round.
At the 2010 Porsche
Tennis Grand Prix, Li defeated defending champion
Svetlana Kuznetsova in the second round, before falling to eventual
runner-up Sam Stosur in the quarterfinals. Li was 11th seed at the
2010 French Open. She fell to eventual champion and world No. 17
Francesca Schiavone in the third round. Li was seeded first at the
2010 Aegon Classic. She defeated 4th seed
Aravane Rezaï in the
semifinals, and 2nd seeded
Maria Sharapova in the final to win the
tournament. With the win, Li returned to the top 10 in the WTA
rankings. Seeded seventh at the 2010 Aegon International, Li retired
in the first round with a knee injury after winning the first set
against Elena Baltacha. Li was seeded ninth at Wimbledon. She defeated
Agnieszka Radwańska to advance to the quarterfinals at
Wimbledon for the second time in her career, where she lost to world
No. 1 and defending champion Serena Williams. In doing so Li once
again returned to the top 10 in the WTA rankings.
At the 2010 US Open, she started off as the eighth seed, but fell at
the first hurdle to Kateryna Bondarenko. Li was an alternate at the
WTA Tour Championships, but did not receive a chance to play.
Instead, she played at the 2010 WTA Tournament of Champions as the
first seed. However, she was defeated by Japanese
Kimiko Date-Krumm in
the first round, putting an end to her 2010 season, her best season to
date. She finished just outside the top 10 at world No. 11. At the end
of the year, Li's coach
Thomas Högstedt chose to leave her in order
to coach Maria Sharapova.
2011: Major Breakthrough & Historic Victory at French Open
Li Na in 2011
French Open semifinal
Li played in the
Medibank International Sydney as the eighth seed,
making fast work of Australian wildcard
Anastasia Rodionova and
winning a tough three-set match against
Virginie Razzano in the first
two rounds. In the quarterfinals she met two-time Grand Slam winner
Svetlana Kuznetsova and came through with a win. She defeated surprise
Bojana Jovanovski in the semifinals to advance to her eighth
WTA final. Li faced world No. 3
Kim Clijsters in the final, and
despite trailing 5–0 in the first set, Li went on to defeat
Clijsters, capturing the fourth WTA title of her career.
Li was the ninth seed at the Australian Open, where she reached her
first Grand Slam singles final, the first tennis player representing
an East Asian and Asian country to achieve that feat. On the way she
ousted eighth seed
Victoria Azarenka in straight sets. She defeated
world No. 1
Caroline Wozniacki in the semifinals to reach the final,
after saving a match point in the second set. She faced No. 3 seed Kim
Clijsters (whom she had defeated at the Medibank International).
Although Li claimed the first set, Clijsters was able to rally back
and claim the championship. Despite the loss, Li's ranking rose to a
career high of world No. 7.
Despite a good early start to the season, Li then had a five-match
losing streak. After receiving byes into the second rounds, she lost
in a hardly fought match against
Yanina Wickmayer at the Dubai Tennis
Championships, lucky loser
Klára Zakopalová at the Qatar Ladies Open
Peng Shuai at Indian Wells. Despite this, after
Indian Wells she peaked at a career-high ranking of world No. 6 due to
Jelena Janković's failures to defend her points.
Li's losing streak continued, when she was upset in the Miami Masters
by Johanna Larsson. With this loss, and Andy Murray's loss at Miami,
Australian Open finalists had yet to win a match since their
first major final. Despite Li's successive losses, her no. 6 ranking
was ensured due to Samantha Stosur's inability to defend her
clay-season points. After a week, she fell back to no. 7. Li then
broke her losing streak by winning her first-round match against
Anastasija Sevastova in Stuttgart. However, she lost to Sabine Lisicki
in the second round. Even though she was not able to defend all her
Stuttgart ranking points, she rose back to no. 6. However, due to her
Li Na sacked her husband as coach and hired
Dane Michael Mortensen.
She entered the Madrid Open as sixth seed. In the first two rounds,
María José Martínez Sánchez
María José Martínez Sánchez and Iveta Benešová
without much difficulty. In the third round she got the better of
Roberta Vinci coming back from a set deficit. She then defeated
Bethanie Mattek-Sands after recovering from a break down in the
deciding set. This victory marked her first semifinals appearance in
Madrid, where she lost to eventual champion Petra Kvitová.
Li's resurgence continued into the Internazionali d'Italia. Seeded
fourth, she received a bye in the first round. She won her opening
Lourdes Domínguez Lino
Lourdes Domínguez Lino and defeated Jarmila Gajdošová
Gréta Arn in the next two rounds en route to back-to-back
semifinals on clay. However, she lost to
Samantha Stosur in two sets.
Li won her first major title at the
French Open on June 4; by doing so
she made history and became the first tennis player from an East Asian
and Asian country to win a Grand Slam singles event. Seeded sixth, she
defeated Barbora Záhlavová-Strýcová, Silvia Soler Espinosa, Sorana
Cîrstea, ninth seed Petra Kvitová, fourth seed Victoria Azarenka,
seventh seed Maria Sharapova, and fifth seed and defending champion
Francesca Schiavone in the final, a match that was watched by 330
million viewers worldwide. After the match,
Li Na was praised by
the Chinese media, and her popularity throughout
expected to grow significantly in the coming months, as she became the
first Chinese national, male or female, ever to win a tennis Grand
Slam title in singles, ensuring her place in the sport's
history. Following the French Open, Li rose to a career high
ranking of world No. 4.
As the second seed at the Aegon International, Li fell in the second
round to Daniela Hantuchová. By virtue of the withdrawal of Kim
Clijsters, Li was the third seed at Wimbledon, her highest seeding at
a Grand Slam. She beat
Alla Kudryavtseva in the first round but lost
in the second round to eventual semifinalist
Sabine Lisicki of Germany
even though she had two match points at 5–3 and served for the match
twice at 5–4 and 6–5. Li suffered a surprise knock-out at the
2011 US Open at the hands of 53rd ranked Romanian teen Simona Halep
and she ended the coaching of Mortensen. Then at the 2011
Li suffered a first round defeat by Romanian player Monica Niculescu.
However, as a result of
Vera Zvonareva and Samantha Stosur's inability
to go past the third round, she was able to qualify for the 2011 WTA
Tour Championships for the first time in her career.
Li made her debut appearance at the
WTA Tour Championships in
Istanbul, Turkey. She was drawn in the White Group along with Maria
Victoria Azarenka and Samantha Stosur. She beat Sharapova
in her opening match but lost her other two matches, failing to make
the semifinals. She finished the year as the world No. 5 after a
memorable yet very inconsistent season.
Li Na was nominated for two
ESPY Sports Award categories: the "Annual Breakthrough Award" and
"Annual Award for best female tennis players". She lost to Blake
Griffin and Serena Williams, respectively. On 17 and 18 December, Li
participated in the
Li Na & Friends
Tennis Exhibition 2011 in
2012: First Premiere 5 Event Champion
Li started her 2012 season in the Hopman Cup with countryman Wu Di,
who was also from
Hubei Province, where she won all three single
rubbers against Marion Bartoli,
Anabel Medina Garrigues
Anabel Medina Garrigues and Jarmila
Gajdošová. It was her first win over
Anabel Medina Garrigues
Anabel Medina Garrigues in four
meetings. It was a return to her form after being plagued by losses
and early round exits in almost all her tournaments during the second
half of 2011 following her Roland Garros triumph. Li then played in
the Sydney to defend her title. She defeated Ekaterina Makarova,
Chanelle Scheepers and
Lucie Šafářová to reach the semifinals. In
the semifinal, she came back from one set down to eke out the win
against world No. 2 Petra Kvitová, the favorite to win the
tournament. In the final, Li failed to defend her title, losing the
Victoria Azarenka in three sets.
Li began her
Australian Open campaign by cruising through the early
rounds of the tournament, dispatching Ksenia Pervak, Olivia Rogowska,
Anabel Medina Garrigues
Anabel Medina Garrigues (after Garrigues retired due to an injured
ankle), en route to meeting her 2011
Australian Open final conqueror
Kim Clijsters in the fourth round.
Kim Clijsters rolled her ankle at
3–3 and Li took the first set comfortably. Li held four match points
at 6–2 in the second set tiebreak, but dropped six consecutive
points to give Clijsters the second set due to unforced errors and
poor shot selection. At 1–5 in the final set, Li began a resurgence
by reeling off the next three games to close the gap to 4–5, but the
Belgian managed to close out the match. Her unexpected loss left her
in tears in her post-match press conference.
After the disappointing
Australian Open campaign, Li participated in
Fed Cup and won all three of her matches on home soil. She
defeated Kei-Chen Changand and
Nigina Abduraimova during the round
robin stages to push
China to the promotional play-offs against
Kazakhstan. She next played
Galina Voskoboeva and won in three sets.
This win sealed the tie and secured China's spot in the World Group II
Li Na in Miami
Li then participated in the Open GDF Suez in Paris, but retired
Tsvetana Pironkova in the first round of the tournament due to
a back injury she sustained during her
Fed Cup matches. She made
back-to-back quarterfinal appearances at the
2012 BNP Paribas Open
2012 BNP Paribas Open and
2012 Sony Ericsson Open. At the BNP Paribas Open, Li got a first round
bye and faced a rematch with
Galina Voskoboeva in the second round,
which she won in three sets. Li recorded her first win over Zheng Jie,
after losing the five earlier meetings. In the fourth round she
comfortably won against Klára Zakopalová, who was on a roll,
Vera Zvonareva and Daniela Hantuchová. In the quarterfinals
Angelique Kerber and lost in two sets. At the Sony Ericsson
Open after receiving a first round bye, Li defeated Melinda Czink,
Iveta Benešová, and
Sabine Lisicki to secure a spot in the
quarterfinals. Li's win over Lisicki avenged her loss to the big
serving German in the previous year's second round of the Wimbledon
Championships. Li lost to world No. 2
Maria Sharapova in the
quarterfinals, her first in their last four meetings, where the
Chinese beat the Russian all in straight sets.
Li reached the final of the 2012 Internazionali BNL d'Italia,
defeating Iveta Benešová,
Chanelle Scheepers and Dominika Cibulková
without dropping a set before receiving a walkover from Serena
Williams in the semifinals. In the final she lost to Maria Sharapova
in three thriller sets despite being a set up and leading 4–0 in the
second and failing to convert a championship point in the final set.
Li was seeded 7th at the 2012 French Open, where she was the defending
champion. She began her title defence by defeating Sorana Cîrstea,
Stéphanie Foretz Gacon
Stéphanie Foretz Gacon and
Christina McHale in the first three rounds
before suffering a fourth round upset bid by qualifier Yaroslava
Shvedova. She fell out of the world top ten due to her French Open
result. Li lost to
Sorana Cîrstea in the second round of Wimbledon
– her first loss against the Romanian.
At the 2012 London Olympics, Li, seeded 10th, crashed out in the first
round to Slovakian Daniela Hantuchová. Her poor performance caused
her to drop out of the world top ten for the second time in the year
following the conclusion of the Games. After the Olympics, Li
announced that she and Carlos Rodríguez, coach of former world No. 1
and seven-time major winner Justine Henin, have commenced a coaching
Li's next tournament was the 2012 Rogers Cup, where she made it all
the way to the final. She received a first round bye before seeing off
home crowd favourite
Eugenie Bouchard in the second round. In the
third round, she fended off world No. 9
Sara Errani and ended the
Agnieszka Radwańska rising to no. 1 in the rankings by
beating her in the quarterfinals. In the semifinals, Li rallied to
come back from a 5–1 deficit in the third set to overcome Lucie
Šafářová before losing to
Petra Kvitová in the final. After the
tournament she returned to the world top ten at no. 9.
At the 2012 Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, Li had a first
round bye before eliminating
Sorana Cîrstea in the second round,
avenging her loss to the Romanian in the second round of the 2012
Wimbledon Championships. In the third round Li proved to be too strong
for Johanna Larsson and in the quarterfinals she convincingly defeated
world No. 3 and top seed
Agnieszka Radwańska in a match where Li only
surrendered two games. She then edged Venus Williams in the semifinal
(bringing their head to head to 3–0), before defeating fifth seed
Angelique Kerber in the final; her 5th win against Kerber in six
matches. This was her first title since the 2011
French Open and the
sixth WTA title in her career. By winning this tournament, she moved
up one place in the rankings to world No. 8.
At the US Open Li cruised through the first two rounds with easy wins
Heather Watson and Casey Dellacqua. However, her tournament run
came to an abrupt end in the next round, when she upset in three sets
by rising British teenager Laura Robson, who had defeated three-time
Kim Clijsters in the previous round. This result meant that
this was her first season since 2008 in which she failed to reach the
quarterfinal stage at a Grand Slam tournament.
Li then travelled to Tokyo to participate in the 2012 Toray Pan
Pacific Open. She received a bye in the first round, and won her
second round match against
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to book a meeting
with former world No. 1
Caroline Wozniacki in the third round. She won
the first set, but eventually lost the match. Her exit from the
tournament meant that her chances of participating in the upcoming
WTA Tour Championships depended on her performance at the China
Open. Li won the first round match against Francesca Schiavone. In the
second round she recorded her first victory against Russian Nadia
Petrova after six previous losses, who was coming off a title run at
Toray Pan Pacific Open
Toray Pan Pacific Open a week ago. She played compatriot Peng
Shuai in the third round for a place in the quarters and emerged
victorious in a topsy-turvy three set match lasting 2 hours and 28
minutes. In the quarterfinals, she faced defending champion Agnieszka
Radwańska and played some high-quality tennis to defeat her for the
third time this season. She lost her semifinal to Maria Sharapova; the
Russian reeling off eight consecutive games to take the match. With
this performance, she became the eighth and final player to qualify
for the season-ending championships.
For the 2012
WTA Tour Championships, Li was placed in the red group
along with Victoria Azarenka,
Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber.
Serena Williams in her opening match and lost in two sets
after failing to capatalise on her 4–1 first set lead. She defeated
Angelique Kerber in her second match before losing to Azarenka in her
third match; in the latter match, she had served for the first set at
5–4, but was broken and lost the set in a tie-break. This was the
final match of her 2012 season, finishing the year ranked world No. 7.
On 29 December 2012, Li beat
Victoria Azarenka in an annual exhibition
event in Hua Hin, Thailand.
Australian Open Final, Return to Top Four & Year-End
Main article: 2013
Li Na tennis season
Li Na with coach Carlos Rodríguez at the 2013 US Open
Li commenced her season at the first edition of the
Shenzhen Open. She
cruised to the final with straight-sets defeats over Mandy Minella,
Bojana Jovanovski and Peng Shuai, putting her in prime
position to claim her seventh WTA title. Li saw off 5th seed Klára
Zakopalová in three sets in the final to claim her first title of
2013 and seventh of her career.
Li next played at the Apia International, at which she made
consecutive finals the two previous years, winning in 2011. She was
pushed to the limit by
Christina McHale but had little trouble with
Ayumi Morita. She met young American
Madison Keys in the quarterfinals
who proved to be a tougher challenge, with Li prevailing in three
tight sets to book a semifinal showdown with world No. 4 Agnieszka
Radwańska. Li looked the winner in the early stages of the match, but
somewhat faltered, producing a high number of unforced errors which
handed Radwańska the first set. She saved four match points on
Radwańska's serve in the ninth game of the second set and three on
her own serve in the tenth game. However, eventually she succumbed to
the pressure and a half-volley into the net sealed the win for
Radwańska in an hour and 32 minutes, putting an end to Li Na's Sydney
Li Na easily stormed through to the
quarterfinals, where she faced world No. 4 Agnieszka Radwańska, who
had not dropped a set during a 13-match winning streak. Li became the
first player to defeat her this season and advanced to the semifinals
where she ousted world No. 2
Maria Sharapova in straight sets, who had
only dropped a record-low nine games in the tournament. This marked
Australian Open final appearance in three years, finishing
Kim Clijsters in 2011. In the final, Li was hampered
by injuries, falling over on two occasions. The first of which
occurred at 1–3 in the second set, a fall that saw Li incur a
10-minute medical timeout. She fell over a second time after the
Australia Day fireworks break, not only twisting her left ankle once
more but also heavily knocking the rear of her head on the court,
causing a momentary black-out. Despite being severely hindered in her
movement, she continued playing but eventually lost the match in three
sets to Victoria Azarenka.
The left ankle injury she sustained in the
Australian Open decider
forced her to withdraw from subsequent tournaments including the Qatar
Total Open, the Indian Wells Masters, plus an exhibition match at the
BNP Paribas Showdown
BNP Paribas Showdown in
Hong Kong in which she was scheduled to play
former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki.
After being sidelined for seven weeks, Li made a return to the
competition at the
Miami Masters as the fifth seed. After a first
round bye, she won her second round against
Kiki Bertens in two quick
sets without dropping serve in her first match since the Australian
Open final. Next up she faced
Varvara Lepchenko and Garbiñe Muguruza
and defeated both in straight sets to set up a quarterfinal match
against world No. 1 Serena Williams. Despite leading 5–2 in the
second set and holding a set point on Williams' serve, she did not
manage to find a way to capitalise and went on to lose the match in a
Li's next tournament was the Porsche
Tennis Grand Prix, the first
major clay-court event of the season. As the second seed, she received
a bye in the first round. She swept past qualifier Mirjana
Lučić-Baroni in the second round, setting up an encounter with Petra
Kvitová in the quarterfinals. She disposed of Kvitová and then
Bethanie Mattek-Sands both in straight sets to
advance to the final for the first time, seeking her eighth career
title. The final was a contest between her and Maria Sharapova, whose
passage to the final included three three-set matches each lasting
over three hours. She, however, handily defeated Li in just over 90
minutes, increasing her clay-court winning streak to 16 and avenging
Australian Open semifinal loss to Li earlier in the year.
Li was then stunned by lucky loser
Madison Keys in the first round of
the Mutua Madrid Open the following week, her first early tournament
exit of the season. Li returned to the Internazionali d'Italia as the
defending finalist. After a first round bye, she defeated
Zheng Jie in
straight sets then squared off with former doubles partner Jelena
Janković, who defeated Li in a marathon match in which Li's
inconsistency proved to her be undoing, committing 62 unforced errors.
As one of the favourites, Li's quest for a second Grand Slam title
began when she played
Anabel Medina Garrigues
Anabel Medina Garrigues in the opening round of
Roland Garros, winning in two sets. Her struggles on clay continued,
however, as she fell victim to Bethanie Mattek-Sands, ranked 67th, in
a rain-interrupted second round match – losing in three sets,
bringing her disappointing clay court season to a close.
Li got her grass court season off to a winning start by beating Alizé
Cornet in the first round of the 2013 Aegon International, at which
she was seeded second. A quarterfinal berth against
Elena Vesnina was
secured after her second round opponent
Marion Bartoli pulled out due
to a viral illness. The Russian ended Li's run and went on to win the
Li was the sixth seed at Wimbledon. She defeated Michaëlla Krajicek
in the first round and
Simona Halep in a rollercoaster three set
match. In the third round against the No. 32 seed Klára Zakopalová,
Li lost the first set, but won the match in three sets after
Zakopalová failed to serve out the match. In the fourth round she
Roberta Vinci to secure a spot in the last eight for the
third time. After the match, she revealed that the secret to her
success was the slice practice that her husband Jiang Shan gave her
prior to the match. In her quarterfinal clash with Agnieszka
Radwańska, she was leading 5–4 in the first set and was a set point
up when she hit an ace that was wrongly called out. Li didn't
challenge the call, and lost the set in a tiebreak where she was also
leading 5–3. She mounted a comeback to win the second set, coming
from 4–2 down. A brief rain delay halted proceedings at the
beginning of the third. When play resumed, it was Radwańska who raced
to a 5–2 lead. Li saved eight match points, but eventually lost the
2 hour 47 minute match.
Li Na practicing at
2013 Rogers Cup in Toronto
Li then competed at the
2013 Rogers Cup in Toronto, at which she made
the final last year. After enjoying a bye in the first round, she
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in two easy sets, followed by
hard-fought wins over in-form players
Ana Ivanovic (in a final set
tie-break, after surviving 2–5) and
Dominika Cibulková to reach the
semifinals, where she lost to Sorana Cîrstea. At the 2013 Western
& Southern Open, she notched wins over
Lauren Davis and Angelique
Kerber before receiving a walkover from
Agnieszka Radwańska in the
quarterfinals after the Pole pulled out due to personal reasons. In
her semifinal against
Serena Williams she was broken when serving for
both sets and was beaten by the eventual champion.
Seeded fifth at the US Open, she defeated
Olga Govortsova and Sofia
Arvidsson in straight sets and then got revenge on
Laura Robson in the
third round, the same stage where Robson defeated her last year. She
then breezed past former world No. 1
Jelena Janković in straight
sets. Upon defeating Janković, she reached the quarterfinals of the
US Open for only the second time in her career. There she beat
Ekaterina Makarova to reach her first US Open semifinal (as well as it
being the first time a Chinese woman made the US Open semifinals)
Serena Williams again ended her run in straight sets, needing
six match points to do so.
She then headed to Beijing to take part in the 2013
China Open as the
home crowd favourite, defeating Daniela Hantuchová, Bojana Jovanovski
Sabine Lisicki in straight sets before falling to Petra Kvitová
in the quarterfinals.
On 27 September, Li successfully qualified for the 2013 WTA Tour
Championships, as the fifth qualifier. She won all three of her round
robin matches against Sara Errani,
Jelena Janković and Victoria
Azarenka, thus qualifying for the semifinals for the first time. Upon
Petra Kvitová her ranking rose to a new career high of world
No. 3, the highest-ever ranking for a female tennis player from an
East Asian and Asian country and overtaking
Maria Sharapova and
Agnieszka Radwańska. In the final she made a strong start, blasting
10 winners en route to winning the first set against Serena Williams,
but ran out of gas at 3-all in the second, losing nine games in a row
to lose the match.
Australian Open Champion and Retirement
Main article: 2014
Li Na tennis season
Li started her 2014 season as the defending champion at the 2014
Shenzhen Open. She defeated wildcard and former world No. 2 Vera
Zvonareva in the first round,
Nadiia Kichenok in the second round,
Monica Niculescu in the quarterfinals and
Annika Beck in the
semifinals to reach her first final of the year and setting up the
second all-Chinese final in WTA history in the process, where she
Peng Shuai in straight sets to win her eighth career singles
title. This marked the first time in Li's career where she had
successfully defended a title of any kind.
At the Australian Open, Li competed as the fourth seed. She made quick
work of current junior top 2 players
Ana Konjuh and
Belinda Bencic in
the first two rounds. Having lost the first set against Lucie
Šafářová, she fended off a match point when trailing 5–6 in the
second before rebounding in the tiebreak and decisive set to avoid the
upset. She then cruised past Ekaterina Makarova, Flavia Pennetta, and
Eugenie Bouchard to reach her third
Australian Open final, where she
defeated first-time Grand Slam singles finalist and 20th seed Dominika
Cibulková in straight sets to claim her first
Australian Open title,
thus becoming the first East Asian and Asian
Australian Open champion
and fourth woman to win the title after being match point
Li extended her winning streak to thirteen consecutive matches by
Magdaléna Rybáriková in her opener at the Qatar Total
Open. She then suffered her first loss of the season to qualifier
Petra Cetkovská in a tight three set contest in the third round.
After the tournament, Li reached a new career high singles ranking of
world No. 2.
Li's next scheduled event was the BNP Paribas Open, where she was
unable to compete the previous year due to injury. Seeded first at a
Premier Mandatory event for the first time, she received a bye in the
first round before registering straight set victories over
countrywoman Zheng Jie,
Karolína Plíšková and Aleksandra Wozniak
en route to a quarterfinal clash with Dominika Cibulková, a rematch
Australian Open final. Though Li committed 54 unforced errors,
she prevailed in three sets and faced
Flavia Pennetta in the
semifinals. There, she was upset in straight sets by the 20th-seeded
Italian and eventual champion.
At the Sony Open Tennis, Li received a first round bye and walkover in
the second round due to the withdrawal of Alisa Kleybanova. Li
defeated Madison Keys,
Carla Suárez Navarro
Carla Suárez Navarro and
Caroline Wozniacki en
route to a semifinal against Dominika Cibulková, who was projected to
make her top 10 debut with her previous win over Agnieszka Radwańska.
Li improved her perfect record against the Slovakian to 7–0 and
booked her place in her first Premier Mandatory final. In a final
featuring the world's top 2 players, Li raced to a 5–2 lead in the
first set and wasted a set point, before her opponent world No.1
Serena Williams rallied to steal the set 7–5. Li only managed to win
a single game in the second set, meekly surrendering the title.
Following a 21–3 start to the season, Li was forced out of the 2014
Tennis Grand Prix due to a left knee injury, where she was the
finalist in 2013. She started her clay court campaign at the 2014
Mutua Madrid Open, where she recorded wins over
Kirsten Flipkens and
Zheng Jie in the first two rounds. Li then battled past Sloane
Stephens in three sets, and was again involved in a narrow three
setter in her quarterfinal against Maria Sharapova, eventually
succumbing to the Russian after taking the first set comfortably. At
the 2014 Internazionali BNL d'Italia, Li beat Australians Casey
Dellacqua (for her 500th career win) and Sam Stosur, before suffering
her first loss to
Sara Errani in the quarterfinals. After the match,
Li told reporters that she had vomited less than 20 minutes prior to
stepping onto the court due to food poisoning. At the French Open,
she was upset by French youngster
Kristina Mladenovic in the opening
round. This was also Li's earliest loss in the tournament. Li's first
round loss contributed to three negative tennis records. Due to fellow
Australian Open Men's Champion
Stanislas Wawrinka losing in the
first round as well, it was the first time in the history of tennis
that the reigning Grand Slam winners were ousted in the opening round
of their next major. Due to number 1 seed
Serena Williams losing
in the second round, it was the first time in Open Era history that
the top two seeded women have lost before the third round at any Grand
Slam tournament. After No. 3 seed
Agnieszka Radwańska lost in the
third round, it was also the first time in the Open Era that none of
the top 3 seeds advanced past the third round.
Li chose not to play a warm-up event before the third Grand Slam of
the season got underway. Her dip in form continued at the 2014
Wimbledon Championships, where she was eliminated in the third round
by Barbora Záhlavová-Strýcová, having beaten
Paula Kania and
Yvonne Meusburger in the first and second rounds, respectively. In
July, Li and coach Rodríguez parted ways.
Having not played since Wimbledon due to a left knee injury which
required surgery, Li announced her retirement from professional tennis
on 19 September 2014. She ended her career ranked world No. 6 by the
Tennis Association. That year she was named one of
ESPNW's Impact 25.
Popularity and endorsements
As the most successful East Asian, and Asian tennis player ever, Li
has become one of the most well-known and marketable athletes in the
world. In 2013, Li appeared on the cover of Time magazine, which
named her to its annual list of the 100 Most Influential People in the
World; Li being one of only four athletes to be named on the list.
Former world No. 1
Chris Evert writes: "
Tennis has exploded in China.
The country now has some 15 million tennis players; 116 million
watched Li win the French Open. That kind of exposure is crucial to
our sport, and it never would have happened without Li. At
tournaments, I've seen her charm the crowds. When she smiles, everyone
melts. She's just such a breath of fresh air. Her friendly on-court
demeanour as well as her hilariously-witty post-match interviews
brings a smile to everyone's face." Li also appeared on
the cover of 26 May 2014 edition of Time magazine, which featured an
article titled "The Passion of Li Na", in which author Hannah Beech
described Li as a world class sports idol, inspiring millions of
Chinese people to regard her as an icon of pursuing independent
character and freedom of thought. In 2012,
Li as No. 85 in the
Forbes Celebrity 100 list. Li, along with the
fellow tennis players
Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams, were the
only three female athletes who cracked the Top 100 earning list.
Li was ranked No. 5 and No.8 on the
China Celebrity 100 list in
2012 and 2014 respectively. Li is affectionately called "Big
Sister Na" (娜姐, pinyin: Nàjiě) among Chinese communities and is
considered a "strong, unbending and unyielding" role model. She has
not only become a household name across
China but a global icon, with
Sina Weibo microblogging having over 23 million followers as of
October 2014. Her perceived rebelliousness, exemplified by the
rose tattoo on her chest and her previous run-ins with government
sports programs, also helped boost her popularity. On 15 April
2015, Li received the Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement award at
Laureus World Sports Awards
Laureus World Sports Awards held in Shanghai. She was also a
nominee for the Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year award, alongside
Nike was Li's clothing and footwear sponsor for many years, dating
back to her early tennis career. Li used
Babolat Pure Drive GT
rackets. In 2009, Li was signed by IMG. She rose to fame after her
Roland Garros triumph, and since had signed seven endorsements in
multiple-year terms. Her agent, Max Eisenbud, also managed
to negotiate a deal allowing Li to wear other sponsors' patches on her
Nike tennis shirt, something not usually permitted by the sportswear
Li was an aggressive baseliner whose game was founded upon her quick
reflexes, athleticism and powerful groundstrokes that achieved
precision, placement and depth. Li's crosscourt forehand tended to be
her favourite shot, hit with great accuracy and pace, although her
backhand was said to be the more consistent and reliable groundstroke,
both of which she was known to unleash unpredictably to all areas of
the court to dictate play. She boasted an exceptional backhand
down-the-line, which was very effective at producing winners or
setting up a weak reply from the opponent. Many tennis analysts
considered Li one of the cleanest and hardest hitting players on tour,
capable of overpowering and outgunning opponents from the baseline.
Although she did not possess an overwhelmingly powerful serve, it was
very well placed, earning her aces or unreturnables on occasion,
however it often became a liability when she lost confidence under
pressure, resulting in many double faults. Li employed a solid
defensive game combining great footwork, speed and lateral movement.
Her ability to turn defense into offense was one of her biggest assets
as she hit well on the run and scrambled around the court with ease.
Having been an accomplished doubles player, she was comfortable when
playing at the net, often moving forward to take advantage of a short
ball or finish off an extended rally. Li's inconsistency was cited as
her main weakness throughout her career, as she was prone to streaky
and erratic play accompanied by a high unforced error count. Since her
shots were usually hit hard and flat with minimal topspin or slice,
her game lacked variety. Her emotions on court have hurt her game
during tight moments. Under the tutelage of Carlos Rodríguez, Li
adopted more of an all-round game, implementing a forehand with
additional topspin and frequent net approaches into her arsenal,
as well as improved consistency, mental stability, mobility and
Li vs. Sharapova
Li Na had a see-saw rivalry with Maria Sharapova, with the latter
winning their first five matches dating back to 2005, including Li's
Grand Slam debut at the 2005 Australian Open. Li won her first
match against Sharapova in the 2009
Birmingham semifinals, starting a
series of four consecutive wins against Sharapova. Li beat Sharapova
Birmingham in 2010, this time in the final, and in the
semifinals of the 2011 French Open, on her way to winning her maiden
Grand Slam. At the Year-end Championships later that year, Li defeated
Sharapova in the round robin stage. In 2012, Li and Sharapova met
three times, with Sharapova winning all three of their matches, the
most notable being the final of the clay-court tournament in Rome. Li
won the first set and looked headed for victory when she went 4–0 up
in the second due to an effectively aggressive gameplan which saw her
take 15 of 17 points. With victory nearing Li suddenly saw her
accuracy shatter and 24 unforced errors let Sharapova back into the
match to eventually take a three set win over Li. They met again
in the 2013
Australian Open semifinals, where Li achieved her most
notable victory over Sharapova, winning in straight sets and giving up
just four games (Sharapova had lost just nine entering the match). A
few months later at the 2013 Porsche Grand Prix
Tennis in Stuttgart,
Sharapova defended her title by defeating Li in the final. The pair
was involved in another three set battle in the 2014 Mutua Madrid Open
quarterfinals, where Sharapova eventually triumphed even though Li was
up a set and a break. Sharapova led Li in the head-to-head 10–5.
Li vs. Radwańska
Agnieszka Radwańska first played each other in 2009. Li led
the head-to-head 6–5. After their first four matches in 2009 and
2010 the head-to-head was even at 2–2. This included a victory each
at the Wimbledon Championships; Radwańska winning in 2009 and Li in
2010. In 2012 Li and Radwańska met 4 times, with Li taking 3
victories. Li lost their meeting in the Stuttgart quarter-final in
three sets, but dominated in Montréal, Cincinnati and Beijing. Li
prevented Radwańska from taking the world No. 1 ranking off Victoria
Azarenka with the first two victories, whilst she also ended her title
defence in Beijing, securing the eighth and final place in the
year-end championships in the process.
In 2013 both won the first tournament they entered. They were both
undefeated when they met each other in the semifinals of their second
tournament of the year at Sydney. Radwańska beat Li and eventually
won the tournament. This was Li's first defeat of 2013, while
Radwańska remained unbeaten. In the 2013 Australian Open
quarterfinals, Li handed Radwańska her first loss of the season. They
met again at Wimbledon in the quarterfinals, with Radwańska eking out
a close three set win.
Li vs. Clijsters
Kim Clijsters formed a well-known rivalry, having met eight
times between 2006 and 2012. Clijsters won their head-to-head 6–2,
including 4–0 at Grand Slams. Li's maiden Grand Slam
quarterfinal was at Wimbledon in 2006 in which she was defeated by the
second-seeded Clijsters in straight sets. Li's second Grand Slam
quarterfinal was at the 2009 US Open, and again it was against
Clijsters, who had recently launched a comeback after starting a
family, who prevailed in straight sets.
One of Li's two wins against Clijsters came in the final of the 2011
Sydney International. Li had trailed 0–5 in the first set before
coming back to win the set in a tiebreak en route to complete a
remarkable straight-sets victory and deny Clijsters a third Sydney
title. They would meet again only two weeks later, in the final of
the 2011 Australian Open, a match which had historical proportions
because Li would have become the first player from
China to win a
Grand Slam singles title or Clijsters would win her first non-US Open
Grand Slam title. Both players came into the match having defeated the
world's top two players in the semifinals: Li over Caroline Wozniacki
and Clijsters over Vera Zvonareva. After Li took the first set, she
proceeded to lose the next two, giving Clijsters her only Australian
The pair met again at the same tournament twelve months later, this
time in the fourth round. Similar to the previous year's final, Li won
the first set before eventually losing in three sets; this time around
she had held four match points in the second-set tiebreak.
Li vs. Azarenka
List of all matches
4–6, 6–3, 6–4
7–6(9–7), 4–6, 7–6(7–4)
6–2, 1–6, 6–3
3–6, 6–3, 6–3
4–6, 6–4, 6–3
Victoria Azarenka met eleven times between 2008 and 2013.
Azarenka led the head-to-head 6–5 overall, and 2–1 in championship
matches, but Li led 2–1 in Grand Slam matches.
Their first meeting was in the final of the 2008 Mondial Australian
Women's Hardcourts tournament (which has since been renamed the
Brisbane International), which
Li Na won in three sets after Azarenka
had won the first. Azarenka's first victory over Li was in the
third round of the 2010 Rogers Cup. They met three times in 2011, two
of which were at Grand Slams, with Li winning on both occasions,
before Azarenka won their third meeting at the 2011 WTA Tour
Championships, en route to reaching the final.
They met a further three times in 2012, with Azarenka winning each
time. They met in the final of the Sydney International, where the
Belarusian won in three sets after breaking the defending champion Li
at 4–3 in the decider. Azarenka was also victorious in their
meetings at Madrid and the year-end championships.
Their most notable meeting to date was in the final of the 2013
Australian Open. Both players entered the championship match with one
Grand Slam title each (Azarenka won the 2012 Australian Open, whilst
Li won the 2011 French Open), and in very good form, with Azarenka
only conceding one set during the tournament and Li not having dropped
a set and also having defeated two top-4 players (Agnieszka Radwańska
and Maria Sharapova) en route. After Li won the first set, she
suffered serious head and ankle injuries and eventually lost in three
Their last meeting at the
2013 WTA Tour Championships
2013 WTA Tour Championships was a lopsided
affair, with Li recording a straight sets win and losing just three
games in the process.
Li Na career statistics
Grand Slam finals
Singles: 4 (2 titles, 2 runners-up)
6–3, 3–6, 3–6
Australian Open (2)
6–4, 4–6, 3–6
Singles: 1 Bronze Medal match
Grand Slam Singles performance timeline
(W) Won; (F) finalist; (SF) semifinalist; (QF) quarterfinalist; (#R)
rounds 4, 3, 2, 1; (RR) round-robin stage; (Q#) qualification round;
(A) absent; (Z#) Davis/
Fed Cup Zonal Group (with number indication) or
(PO) play-off; (G) gold, (F-S) silver or (SF-B) bronze Olympic medal;
a (NMS) downgraded Masters Series/1000 tournament; (NH) not held.
To avoid confusion and double counting, these charts are updated at
the conclusion of a tournament or when the player's participation has
1 / 9
1 / 8
0 / 8
0 / 8
2 / 33
Grand Slam Doubles performance timeline
0 / 4
0 / 2
0 / 1
0 / 3
0 / 10
Tennis in China
List of female tennis players
List of Grand Slam women's singles champions
Tennis performance timeline comparison (women)
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Li, Na (2014). Li Na: My Life. Penguin.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Li Na.
Li Na at the Women's
Li Na at the International
Li Na at the
Li Na at Sina Weibo
Jiang Shan (husband, hitting partner and former coach)
Thomas Högstedt (former coach)
Michael Mortensen (former coach)
Carlos Rodríguez (former coach)
Fed Cup team
French Open champion
Australian Open final
Australian Open final
Australian Open champion
Australian Open women's singles champions
(1969) Margaret Court
(1970) Margaret Court
(1971) Margaret Court
(1972) Virginia Wade
(1973) Margaret Court
(1974) Evonne Goolagong
(1975) Evonne Goolagong
(1976) Evonne Goolagong
(1977 (Jan)) Kerry Reid
(1977 (Dec)) Evonne Goolagong
(1978) Chris O'Neil
(1979) Barbara Jordan
(1980) Hana Mandlíková
(1981) Martina Navratilova
(1982) Chris Evert
(1983) Martina Navratilova
(1984) Chris Evert
(1985) Martina Navratilova
(1987) Hana Mandlíková
(1988) Steffi Graf
(1989) Steffi Graf
(1990) Steffi Graf
(1991) Monica Seles
(1992) Monica Seles
(1993) Monica Seles
(1994) Steffi Graf
(1995) Mary Pierce
(1996) Monica Seles
(1997) Martina Hingis
(1998) Martina Hingis
(1999) Martina Hingis
(2000) Lindsay Davenport
(2001) Jennifer Capriati
(2002) Jennifer Capriati
(2003) Serena Williams
(2004) Justine Henin
(2005) Serena Williams
(2006) Amélie Mauresmo
(2007) Serena Williams
(2008) Maria Sharapova
(2009) Serena Williams
(2010) Serena Williams
(2011) Kim Clijsters
(2012) Victoria Azarenka
(2013) Victoria Azarenka
(2014) Li Na
(2015) Serena Williams
(2016) Angelique Kerber
(2017) Serena Williams
(2018) Caroline Wozniacki
French Open women's singles champions
(1968) Nancy Richey
(1969) Margaret Court
(1970) Margaret Court
(1971) Evonne Goolagong
(1972) Billie Jean King
(1973) Margaret Court
(1974) Chris Evert
(1975) Chris Evert
(1976) Sue Barker
(1977) Mima Jaušovec
(1978) Virginia Ruzici
(1979) Chris Evert
(1980) Chris Evert
(1981) Hana Mandlíková
(1982) Martina Navratilova
(1983) Chris Evert
(1984) Martina Navratilova
(1985) Chris Evert
(1986) Chris Evert
(1987) Steffi Graf
(1988) Steffi Graf
(1989) Arantxa Sánchez
(1990) Monica Seles
(1991) Monica Seles
(1992) Monica Seles
(1993) Steffi Graf
(1994) Arantxa Sánchez Vicario
(1995) Steffi Graf
(1996) Steffi Graf
(1997) Iva Majoli
(1998) Arantxa Sánchez Vicario
(1999) Steffi Graf
(2000) Mary Pierce
(2001) Jennifer Capriati
(2002) Serena Williams
(2003) Justine Henin
(2004) Anastasia Myskina
(2005) Justine Henin
(2006) Justine Henin
(2007) Justine Henin
(2008) Ana Ivanovic
(2009) Svetlana Kuznetsova
(2010) Francesca Schiavone
(2011) Li Na
(2012) Maria Sharapova
(2013) Serena Williams
(2014) Maria Sharapova
(2015) Serena Williams
(2016) Garbiñe Muguruza
(2017) Jeļena Ostapenko
China Celebrity 100
Zheng Jie & Yan Zi
The table includes only the top 20. In 2010, the list started to
include Chinese celebrities born in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and abroad.
Prior to that it only included celebrities born in mainland China.
Women's sport po