Li Na won the Best Female Athletes of the Year 2014 award at the annual China’s Central Television Sports Awards, considered the country’s top sporting honor. The Sports Special Contribution award also went into Li’s hands, for her significance in the development of Chinese tennis.
Li Na left the world of competitive tennis in September 2014, but her achievements and importance for the popularity of tennis in China, and even in Asia as a whole, will stay remembered in history. Now the two-time Grand Slam champion is happily expecting a baby with her husband Jiang Shan and occasionally attending tournaments as a guest.
Will there be a successor to Li Na? In search of such a person, media have already put considerable pressure on Xu Shilin, known as Coco, who was top seed in junior girls’ draw at the 2015 Australian Open. Coco’s family left China when she was a child, moving to Florida in search of better prospects for her tennis career, and although the 17-year-old, now back in China, is still ranked only No.565, she has already cashed in on racket, apparel and smartphone sponsors.
Still, I like this quote of Zhang Bendou, a tennis reporter for the Chinese website Titan Sports:
More and more people realize that what Li Na did is uncopyable. Not only because of what she did on court but also because of her personality, the special timing she had, the transition from system to the professional tour.
(source: Women of China)