How Li Na and the $225 million Wuhan Open took on the world

    Story highlights

    • Li Na global ambassador for hometown event
    • Wuhan using sports to showcase itself
    • $150M center court is as big as Wimbledon's

    London (CNN)Take one of Asia's biggest sports stars, a multimillion-dollar investment and a Chinese city determined to compete domestically and internationally, and what do you have?

    The Wuhan Open.
      The tennis tournament, which starts Sunday in the hometown of Asia's first major singles winner Li Na, is only in its third year.
        Yet it has spent 1.5 billion yuan ($225 million) on facilities that wouldn't look out of place at any of the four majors, and most of the women's top 10 -- except the injured Serena Williams -- are due to take part.
        "This is very much a city branding exercise," professor Simon Shibli, head of Sheffield Hallam University's Sports Industry Research Center in England, said in a phone interview.
        Li Na takes a selfie with fans during last year's Wuhan Open in her hometown in central Hubei province..

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