Li Na's letter to the fans: “My body is begging me to stop” - UBITENNIS
Connect with us

WTA

Li Na's letter to the fans: “My body is begging me to stop”

Published

on

TENNIS – With a long letter posted on her Facebook page, world number 6 Li Na explained why she decided to retire from professional tennis.

 

Friday 19th of September 2014

My dear friends,

For close to fifteen years, we’ve been a part of each other’s lives. As a tennis player representing China on the global stage, I’ve trekked around the world playing hundreds of matches on the WTA tour, for China’s Fed Cup team, at the National Games and at several Olympic Games. You’ve always been there for me, supporting me, cheering me on, and encouraging me to reach my potential.

Representing China on the tennis court was an extraordinary privilege and a true honor. Having the unique opportunity to effectively bring more attention to the sport of tennis in China and all over Asia is something I will cherish forever. But in sport, just like in life, all great things must come to an end.

2014 has become one of the most significant years in my career and my life. This year was full of amazing highlights, which included winning my second Grand Slam singles title at the Australian Open and sharing the extraordinary experience with my country, my team, my husband and my fans. It was also a year filled with difficult moments, such as having to deal with the inevitable – making the decision to end my professional tennis career.

The amazing moment in Australia was filled with joy, happiness and extraordinary sense of accomplishment. The task of finally making a decision to hang up my racquet felt a lot more difficult than winning seven matches in a row in the Australian heat. It took me several agonizing months to finally come to the decision that my chronic injuries will never again let me be the tennis player that I can be. Walking away from the sport, effective immediately, is the right decision for me and my family.

Most people in the tennis world know that my career has been marked by my troubled right knee. The black brace I wear over it when I step on the court has become my tennis birth mark. And while the brace completes my tennis look, the knee problems have at times overtaken my life.

After four knee surgeries and hundreds of shots injected into my knee weekly to alleviate swelling and pain, my body is begging me to stop the pounding. My previous three surgeries were on my right knee. My most recent knee surgery took place this July and was on my left knee. After a few weeks of post-surgery recovery, I tried to go through all the necessary steps to get back on the court.

While I’ve come back from surgery in the past, this time it felt different. One of my goals was to recover as fast as I could in order to be ready for the first WTA tournament in my hometown of Wuhan. As hard as I tried to get back to being 100%, my body kept telling me that, at 32, I will not be able to compete at the top level ever again. The sport is just too competitive, too good, to not be 100%.

Winning a Grand Slam title this year and achieving a ranking of World No.2 is the way I would like to leave competitive tennis. As hard as it’s been to come to this decision, I am at peace with it. I have no regrets. I was not supposed to be here in the first place, remember? Not many people believed in my talent and my abilities, yet I found a way to persevere, to prove them (and sometimes myself!) wrong.

I’ve succeeded on the global stage in a sport that a few years ago was in its infancy in China. What I’ve accomplished for myself is beyond my wildest dreams. What I accomplished for my country is one of my most proud achievements.

In 2008, there were two professional women’s tennis tournaments in China. Today, there are 10, one of them in Wuhan, my hometown. That to me is extraordinary! Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams – with thirty Grand Slam singles titles among them – are coming to my hometown to play tennis for the fans of China! Just as I didn’t think I could ever be a Grand Slam champion, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that some of the best female athletes in the world could play tennis in Wuhan, in my backyard.

My contributions to the growth of the sport in China are very special to me. But I don’t want to stop here. Together with IMG, my management company, we are putting together various plans on how we will continue to grow the sport of tennis in China. These plans include opening the Li Na Tennis Academy, which will provide scholarships for the future generation of Chinese tennis stars. I will also stay involved in the Right to Play, an organization dedicated to helping underprivileged children overcome challenges through sport. My philanthropic work will expand in scope as I continue to dedicate myself to helping those in need. What was once just a dream in China today is a reality.

On a personal side, I look forward to starting a new chapter of my life, hopefully having a family and reconnecting with those I did not have the luxury of spending a lot of time with while playing. I can’t wait to revisit all the amazing places I played tennis in and see the world through a new set of eyes. I look forward to slowing down and living my life at a new, slower, relaxed pace.

Tennis is an individual sport and as players, our job is to spend a lot of time focusing on ourselves. But no player can ever become a champion alone and nobody knows this better than me. There isn’t enough space here to thank everyone who has travelled on my journey with me and contributed to my success. But I must thank those that have stuck with me through the highs and the lows and have helped me become the person that I am today.

THANK YOU TO:

• My mother – for your never-ending support. Through the laughs and the tears, you’ve always been there for me.

• My father – you were taken away from me way too early and I haven’t been the same since. You’ve remained the sunshine in my life and I am who I am because of you.

• Jiang Shan – you’ve been by my side for 20 years. You are my everything and I am grateful to have shared my life with you.

• My first coaches Ms. Xia Xiyao and Ms. Yu Liqiao – for putting me on the tennis path.

• Madame Sun and the Chinese Tennis Association – thank you for being trailblazers for tennis in China.

• Mr. Hu Dechun and the Hubei Sports Bureau – for understanding me and supporting me through the years.

• Women’s Tennis Association – for your passion for women’s tennis and hard work growing it around the world.

• Mr. Chan Hongchang – for supporting me when I first decided to become a professional tennis player in 2008. You helped me make up my mind.

• Thomas Hogstedt – for introducing me to professional tennis.

• Michael Mortenson – for helping me win my first Grand Slam.

• Carlos Rodriguez – for pushing me beyond the limits I thought I could reach.

• Alex Stober – for taking care of me all of these years and pulling me together when I was falling apart.

• Erich Rembeck and Johannes Wieber – for finding a way to make me pain free, over and over again.

• Fred Zhang and the Nike team – you’ve been my guiding light, my support system and my biggest cheerleader. I will never forget it.

• To my agent Max Eisenbud and the entire IMG Team – for being the best management company in the world and for taking care of me every day.

• To all the sponsors that have supported me through every stage of my career.

• To my relatives, friends, and everyone who has helped me throughout my career – for always being there for me and for your never-ending support.

• To my fellow tennis players – for being a part of my journey all of these years. I have so much respect for all of you.

• To everyone in the media who’s covered my career and helped the growth of tennis in China and around the world.

• To the amazing tennis fans around the world – for your unyielding support of our sport and for playing every tennis match along with me.

• And lastly, to tennis fans in China – for getting on the bandwagon and staying on it! I am grateful to each and every one of you for pushing me to be my best, embracing me and loving me unconditionally. There is no limit to how far we can take the sport of tennis in China, together.

When I started playing tennis, I was just a neighborhood kid with an after-school hobby, not realizing what magical journey lay ahead of me. If I only knew what a vehicle the sport of tennis, along with my success, would become for my beloved China. While my journey hasn’t been easy, it has been rewarding. I’ve seen change happening in front of my eyes, young girls picking up tennis racquets, setting goals, following their hearts and believing in themselves. I hope that I’ve had the opportunity to inspire young women all over China to believe in themselves, to set their goals high and pursue them with vengeance and self-belief.

Whether you want to be a tennis player, a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher or a business leader, I urge you to believe in yourself and follow your dream. If I could do it, you can too! Be the bird that sticks out. With hard work, your dreams will come true.

LI NA

Latest news

Elina Svitolina Cast Doubt Over Playing Tournaments Without Points

Ukraine’s top tennis player says she still has many questions concerning the upcoming resumption of the WTA Tour.

Published

on

Elina Svitolina (@TennisChannel on Twitter)

Elina Svitolina has hinted that she may decide not to play in certain tournaments if they are unable to offer any ranking points due to the restrictions that will be in place.

 

The world No.5 has cautiously welcomed the upcoming return of competitive tennis, which will resume at the start of August in Italy. Since March all events have been either suspended or cancelled due to the worldwide health crises. Svitolina’s last played at the Monterey Open in Mexico where she defeated Marie Bouzkova to win her 14th WTA title.

Yet to outline her calendar for the remainder of 2020, the 25-year-old says she still has many questions regarding the resumption of the sport. This year’s US Open will be taking place behind closed doors with players being kept in what essentially is being described as a ‘bubble.’ They will also be undergoing COVID-19 testing throughout. Serena Williams has confirmed her intention to play in New York, however, rivals Simona Halep and Petra Kvitova are both undecided.

“It’s great that everything is coming back, of course, but there are a lot of questions. I think that it’s not just me,” Svitolina said during an interview with btu.org.ua. “At the moment, the conditions that we are offered are not ideal, because there will be many tests, plus isolation, it’s not clear what will happen with the points, with the money … It’s very difficult to say something.’
“If there are no points in a tournament, I don’t know if it makes sense to go and play, because the conditions are enough If you need to spend so much time in isolation, this also plays a big role.”
“I know that there will be more meetings, that this will be decided in the coming weeks.”

The WTA has yet to publish what the ranking point system will be like for the rest of the year and if there will be any changes. On Saturday Spanish newspaper Marca reported that the Palermo Open, which is set to be the first WTA event to get underway when the Tour resumes, is contemplating not issuing points.

Tournament director Oliviero Palma has confirmed that $225,000 in prize money will be awarded and they are hoping to welcome a limited crowd of roughly 500 people to the event in line with local rules. However, he has not commented on the possibility of not awarding any points.

“We believe that around 500 spectators can be present in the stands, divided between the two stands . At the entrance, the fans will have to go through a thermoscanner (to check their temperature),” Sky Italian quoted Palma as saying.

In regards to the US Open, Svitolina says she is confident that the event will be held in the safest possible way. Although it is unclear if she will be playing there or not. Last year she reached the semifinals of the Grand Slam before falling in straight sets to Williams.

“I believe that the conditions are still quite stringent. For example, according to the rule, if you get sick or you have any symptoms, then you can be removed from any round and isolated for 14 days,” she said.
“Some points that are still not known exactly how they will go are quite difficult for all players. I think that they will do everything the best for us. We will watch in the near future how everything goes. I hope that everything will turn out and we will slowly return.”

When and where Svitolina will return to action remains unclear, but she has already returned back to training. Over the coming weeks she will also play in a series of exhibition matches before the Tour starts again.

“I’m already starting to slowly get back into shape, I will play several exhibition matches: in Switzerland in a couple of weeks, also in Berlin . I’ll prepare, it’s good that there are such exhibition tournaments. They are small, there are 8-10 people participating, so the risk is less, everything is done without spectators. For me, these are good intermediate tournaments that now give me motivation to train and prepare.” She concluded.

Svitolina started 2020 by winning 11 out of 17 matches played. She is currently just 10 points adrift of Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in the world rankings.

Continue Reading

Latest news

Madison Keys ‘Looking Forward’ To Tennis Return Ahead Of Charleston Exhibition

Madison Keys is happy tennis is returning ahead of next week’s team exhibition in Charleston.

Published

on

Madison Keys (@AustralianOpen - Twitter)

Madison Keys is looking forward to the return of competitive tennis as she competes in an exhibition event in Charleston. 

 

The defending Volvo Car Open champion will play for the first time since the Australian Open next week when she competes in an exhibition event in Charleston.

Speaking to Journalists in a Zoom call, Keys is delighted that tennis is making its return, “Being able to have some of these tournaments back on the calendar has been really great even just for my mentality, just because I know I’m working for something,” Keys told wtatennis.com.

“I love that I not only get to work towards Charleston, but to be able to use this as momentum into getting back into matches and getting back into competing. I think all of us are super happy and lucky that we’re going to be able to do this.”

The American’s last match was a third round defeat at the Australian Open to Maria Sakkari but will start her preparations for August’s US Open next week.

Keys will captain Team Kindness against Bethanie Mattek-Sands’ Team Peace in a five day event that begins on Tuesday.

The two captains will get to choose seven other players to join their teams, with the following players also competing next week: Sofia Kenin, Sloane Stephens, Victoria Azarenka, Amanda Anisimova, Monica Puig, Ajla Tomljanovic, Danielle Collins, Alison Riske, Shelby Rogers, Genie Bouchard, Jennifer Brady, Leylah Fernandez, Emma Navarro and Caroline Dolehide.

Next week’s event will see a number of difference to a normal tennis event, with players calling their own lines as well as only one official being used, socially distancing applying for the players that are not participating, players holding their own towels and drinks and also no fans and media attending the event.

However none of these regulations affects Keys as she admitted to missing the thrill of competing, “Now we’re all like, please put me on a center court, break point down in the third, because I would love to have that feeling again,” Keys said.

“I think we all really just take for granted how much we love competing. And even those days where you lose, you get to go out and compete and you get to play a sport that you love, and I don’t think we’re ever going to forget that.”

Here is the schedule for next week’s event, which will be shown on the Tennis Channel for those in America:

Continue Reading

Latest news

Bianca Andreescu Commits To Title Defence At US Open As Others Play The Waiting Game

The Canadian believes the USTA has come up with ‘the best plan’ to ensure player safety at the major event.

Published

on

World No.6 Bianca Andreescu has confirmed that she intends to play at the US Open amid concerns that some of her rivals may choose to skip the event due to COVID-19 restrictions.

 

Andreescu is the defending champion at Flushing Meadows after defeating Serena Williams in the final last year. Becoming the first Canadian player in history to win a Grand Slam title at singles level. Taking to Twitter, the 20-year-old said she plans to make the most of tennis resuming later this year. On Wednesday the revised provisional schedule for 2020 was published with competitive tennis set to start during the first week of August in Palermo, Italy.

“The US Open will always hold a very special place in my heart. Arthur Ashe is where I won my first grand slam title and I treasure so many unforgettable moments at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Since then, we’ve seen sports, and the world as we know it, come to a halt due to the spread of COVID-19,” Andreescu wrote.
“I can’t stress enough that the health and safety of, not only the players, but of all those involved in making tennis happen again this season is, and has always been, of the utmost importance.”

It has been more than seven months since Andreescu last played a match on the Tour after missing the start of this season due to a knee injury. She was due to return to action at the Credit One Bank International in Charleston. An exhibition tournament set to feature some of the best players in North America. However, tournament organisers have announced she has withdrawn from competition. Although it is believed that her decision was due to logistics and is not a physical issue.

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s US Open will not have any qualifying rounds and the size of the doubles draw has been cut. Players will be subject to testing throughout their stay in New York in which they will essentially be kept in a ‘bubble.’ Also this year, the Western and Southern Open have been relocated to Flushing meadows and will take place prior to the Grand Slam. Both events will take place behind closed doors.

“I have no doubt that the USTA has come up with the best plan to ensure our safety as we look to the return of tennis in 2020. The decision, I know was not made lightly and I completely support and understand every players personal opinions on the matter and their comfort level traveling near and far to compete on the world’s biggest stage,” Andreescu said.
“Returning to life as we once knew it is no longer an option but, I plan to make the most of the opportunity to get back on the court, re-connect with players and friends and hopefully bring tennis back to the millions of fans across the globe safely.”

Others still on the fence

Despite Andreescu’s confidence in the event, others are sticking to the cautious side. World No.2 Simona Halep, who is the reigning Wimbledon champion, has previously cast doubt on her travelling to New York this year. It had been originally reported that the Romanian plans to play tournaments in just Europe, but a spokesperson from her team has since said that no final decision has been made yet.

“Given the conditions outlined in the US Open this morning, as of today I do not currently plan to play in NYC,” Halep said in a press release issued to Christopher Clarey from The New York Times.
“However, as we know, this situation is fluid and the conditions may change and improve before the entry deadline in July.’
“I would like to underline that my decision is not set in stone.” She added.

Another top women’s name yet to make her final decision is Petra Kvitova. The Czech says she is hoping that the current health situation in the American city improved in the coming week to make her final decision ‘easier.’ Since making her grand slam main draw debut in 2008, Kvitova has never missed the US Open.

“I would like to congratulate the U.S. Open on their hard work and vision in getting to this point and for putting player safety at the centre of their plans,” she told Reuters via e-mail.
“Hopefully the COVID-19 numbers and conditions around travel restrictions continue to improve in order to make the decision to play an easy one.”

On the other hand, Serena Williams has declared that she would be playing at the tournament. Doing so by recording a video statement that was played during the USTA’s virtual press conference yesterday. The American will be bidding to win a record-equalling 24th major title and become the first woman ever to have won a Grand Slam in four different decades.

“I really cannot wait to return in New York and play the US Open 2020,” the six-time champion said. “I feel like the USTA is going to do a really good job of ensuring everything is amazing and everything is perfect and everyone is safe. It’s going to be exciting.”

The US Open will get underway on August 31st.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending