Li Na announces her retirement from tennis after ‘agonising’ decision
Two-time Grand Slam winner Li Na announces her retirement after failing to overcome "chronic" injuries
Australian Open champion Li Na has brought down the curtain on a glittering 15-year career after announcing her retirement from tennis.
Winner of nine WTA singles titles, two doubles titles and a two-time Grand Slam champion, the 32-year-old marks the end of a career that saw her become one of the very best and most popular players in the history of women’s tennis.
She he had not played since losing in the third round at Wimbledon in June and underwent knee surgery in July.
“It took me several agonising 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 in an open letter on Friday.
“Walking away from the sport, effective immediately, is the right decision for me and my family.”
Li etched her name in the history books at Roland Garros in 2011 when she became the first Asian player to win a Grand Slam singles title, defeating top 10 rivals in each of her last four matches.
Earlier in 2011, she was the first player from the region to reach a Major final, finishing runner-up to Kim Clijsters at the Australian Open.
After another run to the final at the Australian Open in 2013, when she was edged by Victoria Azarenka in a dramatic three-setter, Li captured her second Grand Slam title at Melbourne Park in January this year – just the second woman aged over 30 to win the title in the Open Era, after Margaret Court.
The victory helped propel Li to world No2 on 17 February 2014 – the highest ranking ever attained by an Asian player.
Her 21 wins over top-five opponents included two over reigning world No1s – Serena Williams at Stuttgart in 2008 and Caroline Wozniacki at the 2011 Australian Open.
In total she reached 21 WTA singles finals and in addition to her wins at the Australian Open and Roland Garros was a semi-finalist at the US Open and quarter-finalist at Wimbledon.
Along the way, Li established a string of breakthroughs for Chinese tennis, alongside her Grand Slam title triumphs.
She was the first to win a WTA singles title (2004 Guangzhou) and first to win a WTA Premier title (2011 Sydney); first to reach a Grand Slam singles quarter-final (2006 Wimbledon); first to compete in singles at the WTA Finals (2011-13, finishing runner-up to S.Williams on her most recent appearance); and first to crack the singles top 20 (August 2006), top 10 (February 2010) and top five (June 2011).
As well as representing her country in Fed Cup competition in eight different years, she was a three-time Olympian for China (Sydney 2000, Beijing 2008 and London 2012). She also played countrywoman Zheng Jie in the first All-Chinese WTA singles final at Estoril in 2006 (won by Zheng) and earlier this year won the second All-China final in WTA history at Shenzhen, defeating Peng Shuai for the title.
Li steps away from the game with a career singles win-loss record of 503-188 and prize money earnings of $16,709,074. She is currently ranked number six in the world.