SHANGHAI, China - Li Na was given one of the highest honors in sport Wednesday night, receiving the Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award at the Laureus World Sports Awards.
Largely considered "the Oscars of sports", the Laureus World Sports Awards have been held in major cities all over the world since 2000 with an all-star cast of hosts - this year Benedict Cumberbatch - and Li is the latest WTA star to taste Laureus success, becoming just the second athlete to receive the Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award (Michael Phelps was the first in 2013).
? Laureus (@LaureusSport) April 15, 2015
Li was honored for her historic career, which included becoming the first Asian tennis player, male or female, to win a Grand Slam title (and she won two of them - the 2011 French Open and 2014 Australian Open) and the highest-ranked Asian tennis player in history, also male or female (reaching No.2 - the next-highest to date are Japan's Kimiko Date-Krumm and Kei Nishikori, both No.4).
The Chinese trailblazer's last match came at Wimbledon last summer, and she retired in September.
Li was also nominated for the Laureus World Sportswoman Of The Year award, alongside Serena Williams, but both were edged out by Ethiopian middle and long distance runner Genzebe Dibaba.
Several other WTA stars have been honored by Laureus too - four Laureus World Sportswoman Of The Year awards (Jennifer Capriati in 2002, Williams in 2003, Justine Henin in 2008 and Williams again in 2010), four Comeback Of The Year awards (Capriati in 2001, Martina Hingis in 2006, Williams in 2007 and Kim Clijsters in 2010) and one Breakthrough Of The Year (Amélie Mauresmo in 2007).
Here are a few more pics from the magical night - Li's baby bump and husband Jiang Shan included: