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Years After Retiring, Li Na Wields Major Influence in Tennis

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Years After Retiring, Li Na Wields Major Influence in Tennis

“No chance,” she said. “For me, it’s very tough to find the balance between family and tennis. My daughter is 3, and I’ve only left her seven days in three years. I couldn’t imagine leaving her home. And if I brought her on tour, I couldn’t concentrate on the court, so it would be very tough.”

Li, who has been married to her husband, Jiang Shan, for 12 years, said she believed that part of her influence has been making women see themselves more as individuals who can be successful on their own terms.

“I think now the Chinese women are more confident, from not only myself, but also other stories,” Li said. “They see that women can do it. Before they’d see that women would stay in the home and maybe have a nice job. But now, so many women don’t marry, because they think that means sharing with men, and they just want to be themselves. They want to have their own personality.”

Li also pointed to the swimmer Fu Yuanhui, whose expressiveness made her a social media sensation.

Li’s own story will reach to a wider audience soon, because her autobiography, “My Life,” is being made into a movie, with production finishing this year.

Much of “My Life” is devoted to her thoughts on the systematic training methods used when she was a child. Li, who hopes to open her own academy, said that making sure children are enjoying the sport they play should be paramount.

“Especially now, so many athletes, you can see on their face that they don’t want to be here,” she said. “They should learn happiness, confidence and control.”

Li’s influence on Chinese youth has already been massive, with countless young players inspired to try tennis because of her.

Source: The New York Times | Copyright © NYTIMES, All Rights Reserved

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