Former Chinese tennis star Li Na was named as a member of the Laureus World Sports Academy on Wednesday. She was inducted in Paris, the city where she became the first Chinese player to win a Grand Slam title in 2011.
The former world number two joined 59 fellow sporting legends in the Laureus Academy including tennis greats Boris Becker, Ilie Nastase, Martina Navratilova and Monica Seles.
She retired from the game in September 2014 following a serious knee injury. In 2015, Li Na was presented with the Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award at the Laureus World Sports Awards in Shanghai.
Li, 34, was the first Chinese player to win a WTA title, the first Chinese player to break into the top ten in the world rankings and the first Asian player ever to win a Grand Slam.
Speaking in Paris, she said: “Sport has given me so much throughout my life. The lessons I learned, the wins and the losses made me into the person I am today.
I’m honoured to join this incredible team of sporting legends in the Laureus Academy and I’m looking forward to working with my fellow Academy Members, supporting the work of Laureus Sport for Good and inspiring young people around the world through sport. I am so happy that this is happening in Paris, which is a city which means so much to me.”
Laureus Chairman Sean Fitzpatrick welcomed Li to the Academy and said: “Throughout her career she became an icon of the sport of tennis and a role model for youngsters in China and around the world. I know she is looking forward to taking her passion for sport into her role as an Academy Member. Li Na is a great pioneer for tennis in her country. There are already a lot more Chinese players out there and I think we'll see even more in the future thanks to Li Na.”
In China, Laureus currently supports the Special Olympics movement through its Unified Sports programme. The programme works throughout China and involves over 50,000 athletes and partners, focusing on the issue of inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities directly with their peers.
Latest on Sportstar
- NBA Finals: Miami Heat vs Denver Nuggets, Game 2 Box Score
- NBA Finals: 3 takeaways from Game 2 as Miami Heat levels series
- French Open 2023: Swiatek to face Gauff in quarterfinals after Tsurenko retires unwell
- French Open 2023: Rune beats Cerundolo in final set tiebreak, sets up quarterfinal rematch with Ruud
- Seven punished by Spanish government for racist insults against Vinicius