Retiring champion Li Na to help develop game among kids

Retiring champion Li Na to help develop game among kids
China's tennis ace Li Na gets emotional at a news conference to announce her retirement in Beijing on Sunday.

CHINA - Leaving the field of competition due to a serious knee injury, China's tennis ace Li Na couldn't help holding back tears at a news conference on Sunday.

But what could comfort her heartbroken fans is that the two-time Grand Slam winner will continue her career in her own tennis academy.

"Tennis is what I love, so I will try my best to help more children play," said the 32-year-old Li. "We have discussed things about the tennis academy with many related departments. As to when it will open, we have to see how things go."

Li, the most successful tennis player in China, announced her retirement through her micro blog on Friday, saying she has to call an end to her competitive career due to knee injuries.

"I won't be a coach of one or two particular players, but work more on the basic training of children at their starting point," Li said at the news conference.

"I always think highly of the development of Chinese tennis. Since more international tennis events have come to China, more and more young players have had the chances to face high-level international opponents at an early age. I want to build a solid foundation from the very beginning."

Li's success has already drawn more youngsters onto the tennis court. The Women's Tennis Association previously estimated that Li's fame will help China's tennis population grow to 300 million.

After retirement, Li will get more help from her international agent for her academy.

"We will do more for her after her career than we did before. We are very involved in her tennis academy," Li's agent, Max Eisenbud, told China Daily.

"We are going to help in the process to help put together her academy. Her vision is it's not just a tennis academy, but hotel, resort, spa and wilderness and the whole facilities that can have tournaments as well. It will take our time to put things together because we have a lot of time right now."

Even though Li's academy is only in the planning stages, it's already drawn people's attention.

"I've heard that Li will have her own tennis academy," said Zhang Bo, a young mother who accompanied her 5-year-old daughter to play in Olympic Park in Beijing on Sunday afternoon.

"If the academy opens, I will send my daughter to play there. No matter whether my daughter can be an athlete or not, I want her to be closer to Li to learn fighting spirit from her."

leilei@chinadaily.com.cn

 

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