January 25, 2014
Wonderful Li Na won her second Grand Slam – then brought the house down with one of her trademark comedy routines in Melbourne. She thrilled hundreds of millions in China on the way – and took her career earnings well beyond £50 million.
But the whole world is rejoicing for one of the most popular women in sport. Her greater experience counted in the crunch first-set tie-break – and Dominika Cibulkova crumbled as the popular Chinese took the second set 6-0. After two previous disappointments, including last year’s reverse to Victoria Azarenka, this was Li Na’s big moment Down Under.
‘Finally I got it. Thanks to my agent for making me rich!’ she said in her latest post-match comedy-speech. ‘And to my husband – you are famous in China! Thanks for giving up everything to hit with me, fix the drinks, fix the racquets. You are a nice guy. Also you are so lucky to have me! I know you guys think I talk too much but thanks for supporting me.’
At nearly 32 years old, this was a vital chance for Li Na to cement her place in the history of the game while she still could, having won the French Open in 2011. She took it with both hands and her latest triumph will only accelerate the extraordinary rise of tennis in the Far East. More than forty million people play tennis in China. That could double after Li Na’s latest stunning success. She a superstar. She transcends tennis, she makes any tensions between East and West seem absurd, she has the power to unify us all.
Today is an opportunity for the world to rejoice together. Nice people can be winners in sport.
And when Li Na retires in a few years’ time, a future career on the stand-up comedy circuit must surely be an option.