Li Na doesn’t miss playing tennis, but she does miss ‘fighting competition’

CNN  — 

Four years after retiring from tennis, two-time grand slam winner Li Na is back at Wimbledon playing in the 2018 edition’s legends tournament.

“I did not really miss playing tennis, but I did miss the fighting competition,” Li, the first Asian player to win a grand slam, told CNN Sport.

Over the past four years, the 36 year-old has put family first. She has a three-year old daughter named Alisa and an 18-month-old son, Sapajou with her husband and former coach, Jiang Shan.

“Of course the family is number one for me,” explained Li, who became a household name in China, the world’s second largest economy, when she beat Italy’s Francesca Schiavone on the clay of Roland Garros in 2011. That match was watched by over 116 million people in China alone.

“Li Na’s win in the French Open meant that a lot of doors opened in China for tennis,” Ben Rothenberg, tennis writer for The New York Times, told CNN Sport. “A billion people opened up to this sport all at once.”

Li also won the 2014 Australian Open and rose to a career-high No. 2 in the world that same year, before quitting tennis in 2014 following a string of injuries.

Despite retiring, Li still peaks the interest of brands and sponsors, with the Chinese star signing lucrative deals with the likes of Nike, Mercedes Benz and Rolex.

Her playing success has also inspired a new generation of Chinese players, while new tournaments are coming to China as well, notably the WTA Finals, which Shenzhen will host from 2019 through to 2028.

READ: Li Na Land, reality TV and fashion – what China’s tennis pioneer did next
READ: China’s hunt for the next Li Na
READ: How Li Na and the $225 million Wuhan Open took on the world

Meanwhile a biopic film based on her 2014 book is due to be released next year and the actress going to play Li is busy working on her backhand.

“She is still training and has already put on 15 kilos, but she is not yet strong enough for an athlete,” added Li, who didn’t identify the actress playing her. “She could not show the power like me.”