This week, Li Na announced her retirement from women’s professional tennis. She has been called a trailblazer for female tennis players in China and rightly so. The chart below details not only the increase in the number of Chinese women players in the WTA rankings, but also shows how that increase gained speed through the success of Li Na and, before her, Li Fang. Role models are important, not least for the self-belief that they generate in those who follow. It may still be too early to tell but that may be Li Na’s greatest contribution to Chinese tennis.
Chinese tennis players in the WTA Top 100/400 rankings 1988-2013