Chinese tennis player Li Na has become the first Asian woman to win the Australian Open, which is her second Grand Slam title.
The 31-year-old fourth seed took 70 minutes to win the first set in a shaky start, but got back on track to take the second set 6-0 without much contention from Slovakian Dominika Sibulkova.
With all the upsets in the women’s category at the Australian Open, the stage was set for a “new” name to claim the title — the first major Grand Slam of the season.
And it was Li Na’s time to shine. She is no stranger to the Australian Open, with two prior women’s final appearances in 2011 and 2013.
However, after also winning that first set, she ended a runner-up on both occasions. Third time lucky?
In this case, it was.
PHOTO via Reuters: Li Na becomes 1st Chinese player to win Australian Open by beating Dominika Cibulkova pic.twitter.com/bt046rcZHf
— ABS-CBN News Channel (@ANCALERTS) January 25, 2014
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) January 25, 2014
Li Na, the new Australian Open women’s champion, became prominent after winning the French Open in 2011, where she became the first and only Asian woman to win a singles tennis Grand Slam title.
Even though she is “older” by tennis standards, Li Na seems to be getting better with age.
For Cibulkova, the appearance in the Women’s Final is also significant as she is the first woman from Slovakia to achieve the honor. She was all smiles after the match, even though she didn’t come out victorious.
A refreshing change from seeing the top seed stars coming out with sour faces after they lose a final.
What followed after has many calling Li Na’s speech the best ever at a Grand Slam, and one that took the internet by storm.
— Katharina Bart (@KatharinaBart) January 25, 2014
In the customary acceptance speech following the trophy presentation, Li Na thanked those close to her for her win at the Australian Open and, with her usual humor, delivered a classic speech that made the hashtag #funniestspeechever very popular on Twitter.
Li Na thanked her agent… for making her lots of money. “Max, agent, make me rich, thanks a lot,” she said in her broken English to the giggles in the crowd.
Then she paid a unique tribute to her husband of eight years.
“Now, of course, my husband, you’re famous in China. Thanks (to) him with everything, travelling with me as my hitting partner. (He) fixes my drink, fixes my racket…So thanks a lot, you’re a nice guy…”
“Also, you’re so lucky.”
Li Na with her husband. Tomorrow they will celebrate 8th wedding anniversary. :) pic.twitter.com/HsB0cG30W7
— Kishore Sharma (@KishoreRF) January 25, 2014
Li Na, a two-time Grand Slam champ. Nice photo from AFP/GETTY pic.twitter.com/27xNjuP6ZP
— Joe Fleming (@ByJoeFleming) January 25, 2014
Tennis great Chris Evert credits Li Na with making the sport one of the most popular ones in China:
“Tennis has exploded in China. The country now has some 15 million tennis players; 116 million watched Li win the French Open. That kind of exposure is crucial to our sport, and it never would have happened without Li. At tournaments, I’ve seen her charm the crowds. When she smiles, everyone melts. She’s just such a breath of fresh air. Her friendly on-court demeanour as well as her hilariously-witty post-match interviews brings a smile to everyone’s face.”
Congratulations to Li Na on her win at the Australian Open!