Tennis superstar, Li Na, has announced her immediate retirement from the sport saying her chronic knee injuries cause so much pain that she is no longer able to give 100% to her game.
The current world No. 6 is the first Chinese player to win a grand slam singles champion title, which she won twice, in the French Open in 2011 and the Australian Open in 2014.
“It took me several agonizing months to finally come to the decision that my chronic injuries will never again let me be the tennis player that I can be,” Li wrote on her Facebook page. “Walking away from the sport, effective immediately, is the right decision for me and my family.”
— TENNIS.com (@Tennis) September 21, 2014
The 32-year-old Li has had four major knee surgeries in the span of her career, the most recent one being in July, which forced her to withdraw from the recent U.S. Open. Credited for helping popularize the sport in China and the rest of Asia, Li has no regrets about her decision to hang up her racquet. She now plans to focus her efforts on helping develop the next generation of tennis stars from her home country. “We’re putting together various plans on how we will continue to grow the sport of tennis in China,” she said. “These plans include opening the Li Na Tennis Academy, which will provide scholarships for the future generation of Chinese tennis stars.” She also said she will continue to be involved in the Right to Play, an organization dedicated to helping underprivileged children overcome challenges through sport.
— Tennis Warehouse (@tenniswarehouse) September 19, 2014
WTA chairman and chief executive officer Stacey Allaster paid tribute to her career by highlighting the Chinese star’s role in promoting tennis in Asia:
“She is a pioneer who opened doors to tennis for hundreds of millions of people throughout China and Asia,” Allaster said in a statement. “It’s hard to be a household name in a nation with 1.4 billion people, but that’s what Li Na is.”
Sending our best wishes to a great champion and person, Li Na, as she announces her retirement. We’ll miss you in NY! pic.twitter.com/RrlyLVP2vI
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 19, 2014