In 2011 Li Na won the French Open. But success at the highest level doesn’t make you immune to self-doubt. The psychological side of professional sport is just as important as the physical as we’ve heard before from Rafa.
With a Chinese flag affixed to her red Nike outfit, Li made an unexpected run to the semifinals of Roland Garros, seemingly untroubled by the knee surgery she had undergone just months before. The local fans cheered her so wildly — even in the middle of points — that at one stage she yelled, “Shut up!” Li regretted the outburst, but reflected later: “Chinese people needed a victory so badly to prove ourselves. I used to think tennis was simply a sport, but the craziness of that match made me realise that it was endowed with meanings that are far more significant.”
Li was the first Chinese person ever to win a grand slam. Which should inspire her confidence but shortly after her win she stumbled. She let the critical opinions of the press sink in and started to question her game. Her love of playing tennis was shaken and she needed a break.
After retiring at the end of the 2014 season, Na has been doing her bit to promote tennis in China. In fact, she was even planning to launch an academy in China to groom the next Chinese tennis star. Roland Garros is not the only Major that she has won, she also defeated Dominika Cibulkova to win the 2014 Australian Open. At Wimbledon and the US Open, he best finish was the quarterfinals and the semifinals respectively.
Among her other accolades, she was 4th in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
“Tennis is best of three sets, so even if I lose the first set, I still have a chance.”