WUHAN, China - This September, 12 months on from her emotional farewell to tennis, two-time Grand Slam champion Li Na will return to the Wuhan Open to take part in the official unveiling of a new 15,000-capacity stadium.
Fittingly, given Li's success there, the Australian Open's Rod Laver Arena provided the blueprint for the state-of-the-art arena, which will have a retractable roof, 25 corporate hospitality suites and extensive facilities for players, media and on-site administration.
Having helped put Chinese tennis on the map with her victories at the French and Australian Opens, Li, who was born and raised in Wuhan, hopes the new stadium will be the stage for future generations to etch their names in history.
"I am really looking forward to seeing the new court and to being part of the opening ceremony," Li said. "I hope it will host lots of amazing matches this year and in years to come. This is great for tennis and fantastic for my home town of Wuhan."
Just as enthusiastic about Li's involvement is Zhu Jianbin, the President of Wuhan Sports Development Investment Company: "We are delighted that Li Na will help launch our new stadium. She is an icon of tennis in China and especially in Wuhan, her home city. The fans here love her and everyone is so proud of her achievements.
"Last year Li Na said she hoped that Wuhan Open could be the best among all the WTA tournaments. And now we are about to open one of the best tennis facilities in the world, which is a huge leap forward. There is no doubt that she is the perfect person to help Wuhan take this step forward into the future."
Based at the heart of the recently built Optics Valley International Tennis Center, the stadium will not only showcase the WTA Premier tournament, but also stage other sports events such as basketball, badminton, volleyball and table tennis, as well as music concerts and cultural events.
This year's Wuhan Open runs from September 27 until October 3, with many of the game's biggest names already confirmed to compete. Among their number is defending champion Petra Kvitova, who is eagerly anticipating her return.
"I'm really excited to come back to Wuhan this year and defend my title," Kvitova said. "It was such an amazing event in its first year and I can't wait to see the changes they have made and to play in the new stadium. The Chinese fans are fantastic and create such a special atmosphere for us to play in."
Tickets went on sale last Tuesday and can be purchased via the official tournament website.