BEIJING (AP) — Two-time Grand Slam champion Li Na of China has retired due to recurring knee injuries. In a trailblazing career, the WTA credits Li with being the first player from Asia to win a Grand Slam title, at the 2011 French Open. After losing the 2013 Australian Open final to Victoria Azarenka , Li returned in 2014 to beat Dominika Cibulkova in the final at Melbourne Park for her second major title.
Li has been as much admired for her strength and humor off the court and for her prowess on it.
Here is a selection of what some former rivals and fans said about Li on the news of her retirement:
” Li Na , one of the funniest and nicest players on tour! A great competitor and a role model both on and off the court! You will be missed!! An exciting new chapter starts today!” — Former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki posted on Twitter.
” Li Na has been a fun, powerful, and wonderful player on the WTA tour and, along with her fans, I am sad to hear that she has retired. In addition to her amazing tennis abilities and her warm and humorous personality, she is a pioneer who opened doors to tennis for hundreds of millions of people throughout China and Asia .” — WTA Chairman Stacey Allaster said in a statement.
” Li Na another of the great long line of WTA pioneers, what an amazing career. May you & Dennis enjoy family always.” — U.S. Open singles finalist and multiple Grand Slam doubles champion Pam Shriver .
“We also thank Li Na for the passionate and proud, shining moments she gave to Chinese tennis in her competitive career.” — Chinese Tennis Association .
“I feel kinda sad, Li Na is retiring.” — Five-time Grand Slam singles champion Maria Sharapova posted on Twitter.
“Only the bird willing to stick out deserves to fly further. Our salute to the leading bird of the past 15 years.” — Nike, a long-time sponsor, posted on its Weibo social media account.
“It’s not necessarily a full stop. Tennis players like ( Martina) Hingis first retired and then came back and started again.” — A fan from Shanghai , who would only identify himself by his family name of Wang.
Li Na goes into retirement content with her achievements, and aiming to continue contributing to the game.
“What I’ve accomplished for myself is beyond my wildest dreams. What I accomplished for my country is one of my most proud achievements.” — Li Na , in her open letter to fans.