Li Na makes history in the French Open tennis tournament on June 4 in Paris to become the first Chinese to have won a Grand Slam title. Photo: IC
The secret is out how tennis star Li Na became the first-ever Chinese Grand Slam singles title winner.
"Li winning the French Open was a showcase of her competitive strength as well as a demonstration of the superiority of socialism with Chinese characteristics under the leadership of the Communist Party of China," Hubei Party secretary Li Hongzhong announced at a ceremony in her home province on Monday, honoring Li as a "breakthrough pioneer" and handing her 600,000 yuan ($92,820) .
After winning the Roland Garros final last month, Li sparked a minor controversy back home for thanking her family and not the motherland in her post-match speech, but on Monday she was thankfully back on message.
"I want to thank the country, Hubei, my family and all my coaches for their support. I'm willing to dedicate my victory to the country," said Li, who sports a red rose tattoo on her chest and is known for being something of a rebel after negotiating her release from China's tennis association three years ago, freeing herself to choose her own coaches and also retain a larger share of her earnings.
Li's new job as deputy director of her home province's tennis administration center would enable her to promote tennis in China, said former tennis journalist Zhang Wenyue on Tuesday.
The 30-year-old Wuhan native had "accepted the appointment with pleasure," a Hubei Administration of Sports spokesman said. Li would not start her new job until she ended her career, he said.
"My goal is to be a housewife after retirement," Li joked at a press conference in Beijing on Tuesday.
Li Na had returned home last week after losing to German Sabine Lisicki in the Wimbledon championships.
Li's victory over Schiavone was watched by 116 million people in China, making it the most-watched sport event this year and the most-watched tennis match ever in the country.
Success has made Li one of the biggest sports stars in China alongside basketball player Yao Ming.
Xinhua contributed to this story