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Li Na: This Is A Weakness

It was a phenomenal season for Li Na - finals of the Australian Open and WTA Championships, World No.3 - but she says she has had to overcome one specific weakness to achieve her goals. What is it?

Published December 10, 2013 12:03

Li Na: This Is A Weakness
Li Na

ISTANBUL, Turkey - Sometimes it's hard for the press to relate to the players, and vice versa. But not in Li Na's case - she understands how it works to be in the media, much more than a lot of us know.

Back in the early 2000s, Li actually left the sport for two years, going back to college and studying journalism. She was asked what she remembered about the experience at the WTA Championships.

"A lot," she said. "I wrote about history in China. It was mostly writing about history in China. But I also wrote about sports - any sport - and of course tennis, because I knew tennis so well. I didn't really know a lot about the other sports, but when someone writes something wrong I can clearly see it."

Does Li still read newspapers now as she travels the world? "Actually it's tough for me to read English newspapers," she said. "Before I went to university I was reading newspapers a lot, but the funny thing is since I finished university I never really read the newspapers because I can find so many mistakes.

"And now we can get more information on the internet. You don't have to read newspapers."

Thankfully, Li did eventually come back to the tour.

"When I came back to the tour, I had been thinking about it for about a month and a half. When I retired I was No.1 in China. If someone isn't doing so well, that's one thing, but if they're doing well, that's another story. I just had to think about if I really wanted to come back, and I did, and I'm glad I did."

Will Li go back into journalism when this tennis gig is all over?

"No, I want to be a housewife!"

Her rise over the last few years has made headlines around the world time and time again - first Asian player to reach a Grand Slam final at the 2011 Australian Open, first Asian player to win a Grand Slam title at the 2011 French Open - but this year Li wrote her name into the history books again, rising to No.3 in the world after the WTA Championships in Istanbul, the highest-ranked Asian player in history.

The Chinese secured the World No.3 ranking with a semifinal victory against good friend Petra Kvitova.

"I didn't think about anything when I was serving for the match - if I thought too much, maybe I would have lost. But after the China Open, my coach Carlos and I had a pretty long talk, and he was telling me that if I got to the final I would be No.3, which was my goal for the year. We were saying it all year.

"I was like, 'It sounds easy.' He said, 'Yes, but you have to do what you say. Don't say what you do.'"

To make these goals happen Li has had to change her mentality a little bit, as well.

"Maybe it's different, Chinese and Western. I think Western people like to share how they're feeling. I'm not sure about every Chinese, but me, if I feel something, I try to never talk about it. I always feel I'm strong enough, that I can fix everything myself. But this is a weakness. A strong person will speak out if they're feeling something, because they know other people can help make them even stronger.

"So at first when I was telling everything to Carlos I was feeling terrible, but now I'm feeling much better, because I opened my mind a little bit and shared my feelings, and we've achieved so much."

Topics: news, na li, 2013
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