By David Li, bostonese.com
New York City, May 16, 2014, — China’s “golden flower” Li Na will appear on the cover of the May 26 issue of TIME magazine. This year’s French Open, where Li Na won her first Grand Slam title three years ago, starts on May 25.
Li Na was also featured on the cover of the 2013 TIME 100 issue, the magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
“The Passion Of Li Na” title piece focuses on Li’s journey in professional tennis, her relationship with the Chinese people, her role as a global sports icon and how she has inspired millions of Chinese people as a symbol of independence and freedom. “Why her greatest victory might have been against China’s sports machine,” the subtitle suggests on the TIME cover.
Born on Feb. 26, 1982 in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, Li Na showed extraordinary talent in sports at early age. Her father Li Shengpeng was a professional badminton player. Li Na made to the national tennis team in 1997 and became a professional tennis player in 1999.
Li Na surprised a lot of people when she quit the Chinese national tennis team at end of 2002 to study at Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST), where she got her bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2009. Media reports suggested that the relationship between her future husband Jiang Shan, also a national tennis team member, was opposed by the national team’s management as the reason. She successfully returned to professional tennis in 2004.
Like Yao Ming during his NBA career, Li Na has a large fan base here in the US. Some of her most passionate fans are those from Li Na’s hometown Wuhan, China. They feel the spirit of Li Na represents the outspoken, passionate and fearless characters of Wuhan people. Of course, they love to listen to the Wuhan dialect that Li Na speaks, sometimes during a tennis match.
“Big honor for me to be on the cover of Time magazine again,” wrote Li Na on her Facebook page.
“Yea! Na Rock on love watching you. Keep up the good work. I’m saving this cover…awesome,” commented Carroll Mable on the TIME magazine photo Li Na shared.
Earlier this month, Li Na was also featured on the cover of GQ’s Chinese edition. With a tennis racquet in the backgroud, Li Na dressed in white sports bra and white pants. A tattoo can be seen just below her neck.
“My Role model Li Na on GQ magazine cover. Go Li Na, French Open,” wrote Tracy Cracauer on Facebook while sharing this cover photo.
“Cover of GQ China, out now. One of the most fun shoots I’ve had in years. What do you guys like of my signature tan lines?” Li Na joked about this cover photo on her Facebook page.
Li Na became Asia’s first Grand Slam champion at the 2011 French Open. Earlier this year, she won her second Grand Slam title at the 2014 Australian Open. Li Na became the first Asian player ever to break into the top 3 on the WTA Rankings and has since bettered her career-high to No. 2. Another title at French Open would likely to make her the world’s No. 1 tennis player.