Chinese Trailblazer Blazing A New Trail

It has been a year since Chinese tennis pioneer Yan Zi played on the WTA - where has she been?

Published June 15, 2012 12:00

Chinese Trailblazer Blazing A New Trail
Yan Zi

CHENG DU, China - Yan Zi has a very big place in Chinese tennis history. She and Zheng Jie were the first Chinese players to win Grand Slam titles, taking the doubles titles at the Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2006; she was the third Chinese player to win a WTA singles title as well, winning Guangzhou in 2005 (Li Na and Zheng were the first and second). But it has been a year since the 27-year-old Yan has played on the WTA - where has she been?

Becoming a mother. And caught up with her over in China...

It has been a year since you've played. What have you been up to?
"During the year I was away from the courts, everything I did was for my baby, from waiting for her to be born to taking care of her and playing with her. But at the same time, I still keep my eyes on tennis - sometimes I watch the matches on TV and sometimes on live scores, but I've been watching!"

When was your baby born and what is her name?
"She was born on January 17, 2012, and her name is Iza."

What is it like being a mother now?
"It's amazing. Her every single movement catches my attention. She's growing up day by day - she's five months old, but she already looks bigger than when she was born. I'm always thinking, 'Did she really come out of my belly?'"

What are your best memories from the WTA?
"I have had a lot of beautiful memories during my tennis career, but the best is when I held the doubles trophies at the Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2006. That's a dream for every tennis player. The most unforgettable match was the quarterfinals of the Beijing Olympics in 2008, when we went on court after midnight - we were really behind in the third set but finally we won the match at 3:40am, and all the audience burst into cheers. I felt so happy."

Do you plan on returning to tennis?
"I'm planning to, yes, because I don't want to give up on tennis. But as I have a baby to take care of now, I can't be on the road too much. So I will play doubles at some tournaments. I'm looking forward to playing again!"

Yan, who hits the ball with two hands off both sides, has been one of China's most successful players, winning one WTA title in singles and 17 WTA titles in doubles (her career-high rankings are No.40 and No.4, respectively).

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Topics: 2012, news, zi yan
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