Double Grand Slam winner Li Na begins her challenge for a second French Open title in Paris next week, a feat which would give a significant boost to tennis in China.
Speaking in an interview with Laureus.com, Li Na, who is the first Chinese player to win a Grand Slam and reach the top ten in the world rankings, said: “We have only had tennis in China for a short time and now I am really happy we are doing well. There is much more we can prove.”
Of her targets, she says: “I know No.1 ranking is still far away, but I try to catch that. And to try to win another Grand Slam, if I can.
“At the time [after winning the 2011 French Open] I really did not think about how many ‘firsts’ I was making, but then at the press conference they reminded me and I was feeling pretty good when they told me.”
Li Na knows that if she wins in Roland Garros this year, her reaction will be very different to 2011. “When I won my first Grand Slam in the French Open I was feeling excited, but after that I did not do well on the court and I did not know what I should do. I just struggled.”
However, her slump in form lasted just six months and she returned stronger than ever, winning the Australian Open in February this year, her second Grand Slam victory.
She said: “Now I think I am more understanding about myself. More understanding about tennis. When I come to the court I know what to do.”
Li Na, who was nominated for the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award after her French Open victory, said: “When some people say ‘she is lucky’, I say yes I am. I play good tennis, I am healthy. I fight on court. I am really happy to have my team around me.”
Victory at Roland Garros this year will make Li Na a strong contender for Nomination for the Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Award.