Misc Tennis

When Zheng Qinwen Met Li Na

When Qeenwen Met Li Na

By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Saturday January 20, 2024

It’s rare that a press conference or on-court interview goes by that China’s Zheng Qinwen doesn’t get asked to give her thoughts about Chinese trailblazer Li Na.

Tennis Express

Li is a giant of the sport, a legend of women’s tennis, and a woman that single-handedly elevated the popularity of tennis in China – and Asia.

It happened again on Day 7, after Zheng finished off compatriot Wang Yafan in a third-set tiebreaker to reach the round of 16 in Melbourne for the first time. On-court interviewer Andrea Petkovic asked Zheng if she had any recollections of watching the 2014 Australian Open women’s final, won by Li over Dominika Cibulkova.

Thoughts? Yeah, Zheng had a few.

“I was sitting there in front of the TV and watched from the beginning until the end,” Zheng told on-court interviewer Andrea Petkovic, as she displayed her trademark smile. “That final, I’ve watched it more than ten times, so I have a lot of memories.”

That’s why we were surprised to learn that after all these years, Zheng still hadn’t met Li in person – until today.

That changed when Li, in town to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of her title, popped in on Zheng at the media terrace, slapped her on the butt and gave her a giant hug.

It was a massive moment for Zheng, who told reporters that she was completely caught off guard by the legend’s appearance.

“That was totally a surprise for me,” Zheng said. “She just went to me like this, said congratulations. I was feeling super happy to meet her and have the chance to talk with her because I never talked with her in person. That was feeling really special for me.

“You know, I feel she’s much more beautiful than what I saw her — when I saw her on TV before.”

Advice from Li? Keep it Simple

Li and Zheng hung out long enough for the 21-year-old to get some advice from the Hall of Famer. Li’s advice? Don’t overcomplicate things.

Zheng, making her ninth main draw appearance at a major, will face France’s Oceane Dodin in the round of 16.

“She said to me don’t think too much, just keep simple,” the No.12 seed said. “I think that’s right now what I need to do as well, yeah.”

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