Ten years after her historic Australian Open triumph, Li Na has won again at the Australian Open. She bested Australian tennis legends Casey Dellacqua and Alicia Molik in the Australian Open Legends tournament.
Na was the first Asian woman to win a grand slam singles title and has inspired a generation of Chinese talent. On Sunday, she teamed up with Daniela Hantuchova for the exhibition tournament, stepping out onto Margaret Court Arena to a rousing reception.
The pair made quick work of the Aussie duo winning 7-5 6-1 and the Aussie fans didn't mind one bit, cheering the beloved retired tennis player's every winner. The Chinese legend's appearance at Melbourne Park was originally planned to take place on an outside court but she ended up being given the opening match on Margaret Court Arena so as many fans as possible could watch the tennis icon in action.
"Li Na is a hugely popular Australian Open champion and her historic win in 2014 will always have a very special place in the history of our sport," Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley said.
The 12-strong Legends tournament line-up also includes Australian Open 2002 champion Thomas Johansson, Roland Garros 1997 winner Iva Majoli, former world number two Tommy Haas, two-time grand slam finalist Mark Philippoussis and Marcos Baghdatis. The Australian Open Legends event will continue until January 25.
Zheng Qinwen continues inspired Australian Open run
Having watched her fellow Chinese woman's Australian Open triumph "more than 10 times", an inspired Zheng Qinwen reached the fourth round for the first time on Saturday. The 12th seed outlasted compatriot Wang Yafan, winning 6-4 2-6 7-6 (10-8). Zheng will face Oceane Dodin on Monday, who downed fellow French player Clara Burel 6-2 6-4.
Li became the first Asian woman to win the Australian Open crown ten years ago and Zheng, 21, said she clearly remembers Li's famous victory at Melbourne Park, where she bested Dominika Cibulova 7-6 (7-3) 6-0 in the final.
"Of course, cause I was sitting there in front of the TV and I watched from the beginning until the end and that final, I've watched it more than 10 times so I have a lot of memories," said Zheng, who reached the quarter-finals of the US Open last year.
"She's an unbelievable player - the first Asian woman who was the grand slam champion - how can you not remember that."
- with AAP
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