Tennis Star Brings China Grand Slam Singles Win Li Na is China's first international tennis star, having won the French Open on Saturday. Her victory reflects China's determination to excel in almost every sport — and her own hard work, augmented by a strong independent streak.

Tennis Star Brings China Grand Slam Singles Win

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As NPR's Rob Gifford reports, the title has been a long time coming for Asian players and for Li Na herself.

ROB GIFFORD: Unidentified Announcer: Now Schiavone with a backhand long. And Li collapses onto clay, jumps up quickly because she's all the energy in the world at the moment, the new champion is Asia's first-ever Grand Slam singles champion, it is Li Na.


GIFFORD: Now, here was the 29-year-old from Wuhan in central China lapping up the applause and suggesting that she certainly is not too old for more Grand Slam titles.


LI NA: Thanks for all of you support me. For sure I will come back next year. Thank you so much.

GIFFORD: After doubles wins at Wimbledon and the Australian Open, China can now celebrate an individual joining the game's elite. Speaking afterwards, Li acknowledged what a historic day it was.

NA: Of course, it's amazing time for me. To come to the final and say, one more step, and the dream can come true. I think today is special day.

GIFFORD: Now, it's reported in the Chinese state media that the government takes just 8 to 12 percent of her prize money, compared to 65 percent under the old system. Li said she hoped her victory could spur more young Chinese girls to take up tennis.

NA: Today, of course, China will show the match in same time. Many people will see this match, and I wish more children will pick up the racquet to play tennis.

GIFFORD: At the Camel Sports Bar in downtown Shanghai, it seems that is a very real possibility.

GRACE REN: (Foreign language spoken)

GIFFORD: It makes us very proud, says 25-year-old Grace Ren. We couldn't have dreamt of it even quite recently. But now she's done it, and we're all very happy. Young girls love Li Na, she says.

LI FANG: (Foreign language spoken)

GIFFORD: Rob Gifford, NPR News, Shanghai.



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