Li Na announced her retirement from professional tennis on Friday, but her legacy will never be forgotten among the tennis faithful. The most influential Chinese player in the history of the sport, Na is the only Chinese player, male or female, to win a Major singles title. Known for her aggressive court game, Li was even more well-known for her infectious smile and friendly nature off the court. Here, we look back at five of the best moments in her illustrious career.
Australian Open (2011) – The Speech, Part I
Plenty of storylines surrounded the 2011 Australian Open, and the emergence of Li Na was certainly at the forefront. With a slate of impressive wins, including triumphs over former BNP Paribas Open Champions Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki, Li became the first Chinese player, male or female, to reach a singles final. Yet, perhaps Li’s Aussie stint was even more well-known for her astute charm and virality, as she delivered one of the most entertaining post-match interviews of all time.
French Open (2011) – The First Major
After becoming the first Chinese player to reach a singles final, Li Na chased history once again in Roland Garros, defeating Petra Kvitova and former BNP Paribas Open Champions Azarenka and Maria Sharapova en route to a finals showdown with defending French Open Champion Francesca Schiavone. Li would not be denied this time and would secure her place in the record books, defeating the Italian 6-4, 7-6(0) to become the first player from China to win a Grand Slam singles title.
Australian Open (2014) – Triumph Down Under
After reaching the Australian Open final again in 2013 after winning in 2011, Na would finally record that elusive title in Melbourne in 2014. She would only drop one set in the tournament en route to winning her second Grand Slam crown, including a victory against 2014 BNP Paribas Open Champion Flavia Pennetta in the quarterfinals.
Australian Open (2014) – The Speech, Part II
Li Na was back to her old ways following her victory in Melbourne, delighting the crowd with another heartfelt and entertaining speech. After commending her opponent Dominika Cibulkova, she thanked her agent for “making her rich” and husband because he’s “a lucky guy.” See it HERE.
BNP Paribas Open (2014) – Water Balloon Toss
Li Na is surely one of the world’s best with a tennis racquet, but we decided to test her skills with water balloons at the 2014 BNP Paribas Open along with other WTA stars. In case you missed the video, see it HERE.