espnW: Li Na

Tennis players from across the globe sent well wishes to Li Na, who announced her retirement on Friday.

Li, who takes two Grand Slam trophies into the next chapter in her life, was respected for her hard work and skill but beloved for her humor and honesty.

She announced her retirement in a letter that was posted on social media sites.

Here’s what some of her contemporaries/admirers had to say.

And that wasn't all.

There was more still.

And even more than that ...

An outpouring of love like that doesn't come often. Tennis is clearly going to miss her.

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The Buzz

Say It Ain't So! Li Na Reportedly Set To Retire

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18
12:13
PM ET

Two-time Grand Slam champion and beloved tennis star Li Na reportedly is set to announce her retirement on Friday. I will now give you a minute to try and collect yourself.

Ranked No. 6 in the world, Li has been hobbled by a knee injury and has not played since losing in the third round at Wimbledon in June. Rumors about her retirement have been swirling for months.

Li has been featured on the cover of Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world and was listed by Forbes as the second-highest paid female athlete in the world (behind Maria Sharapova) in 2014. Her success and popularity is widely credited for the tennis boom in her home country of China and all of Asia.

But even before there was any official word from the international superstar, fans on both Twitter and Chinese microblogging site Weibo were distraught over the news.

I can only imagine what the reaction will be, from both her fans and peers alike, if she actually announces her retirement on Friday. Brace yourselves for a day of sorrow on your social media feeds.

See something entertaining on social media that you think deserves to be shared? Let me know on Twitter, @darcymaine_espn.



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The Buzz

When it comes to victories, Maria Sharapova can't touch Serena Williams’ trophy case. However, that doesn’t stop Sharapova from beating out Williams for the title of the world’s highest-paid female athlete in 2014.

Sharapova’s endorsement deals put her atop the list with earnings of $24.4 million between June 2013 and June 2014, according to Forbes.com. She's followed by Li Na, Williams, Kim Yuna and Danica Patrick. Read more about each, and find out who's in the rest of the top 10, over at Forbes.com.

Happy Birthday, Li Na!

February, 26, 2014
Feb 26
7:24
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Li NaAP Photo/Aaron FavilaLi Na got an early birthday present with a Grand Slam victory in Melbourne last month.

Happy birthday, Li Na! The reigning Australian Open champion turns 32 today. Ranked No. 2 in the world, Li joined the professional ranks in 1999 and became the first Chinese player to win a WTA title in 2004. She has won a total of nine WTA titles, including two Grand Slams (2011 French Open and 2014 Australian Open) and has become one of the most popular public figures in China. Li was one of just four athletes to be named to Time magazine's "100 Most Influential People in the World" in 2013. Due in large part to her affable nature and hilarious post-match interviews, Li is considered among the tour's most well-liked players by fans and peers alike. She is scheduled to compete at Indian Wells, Calif., at the BNP Paribas Open next week.

Serena stands alone

September, 6, 2013
9/06/13
9:10
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Serena WilliamsTimothy A. Clary/Getty ImagesSerena Williams is hoping to join Steffi Graf and Margaret Court as five-time winners at the US Open.
Serena Williams enters the semifinals as the United States’ lone chance at a singles champion at the 2013 US Open. American women have won 89 of the 126 singles titles awarded at the US Open. Those 89 titles have been won by 35 different women. The other women’s semifinalists – Li Na of China, Victoria Azarenka of Belarus and Flavia Pennetta of Italy – are hoping to claim the first US Open women’s singles title in the history of their countries. Other than the United States, only three countries have won more women's singles titles than Serena -- Australia with six and Belgium and Germany with five. The men's semifinalists represent Serbia (Novak Djokovic), Spain (Rafael Nadal), France (Richard Gasquet) and Switzerland (Stanislas Wawrinka).

A month away from France's red clay

April, 26, 2013
4/26/13
8:21
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Maria Sharapova
Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty ImagesMaria Sharapova became the 10th woman to win a career Grand Slam when she defeated Sara Errani at the 2012 French Open.
One month from today, on May 26, the French Open opens at Roland Garros. The tournament dates back to 1891, and the first women’s singles champion was crowned in 1897 when Adine Masson won the trophy. In the Open Era, Chris Evert has won the most titles on the red clay, with seven. This year’s draw is expected to feature six former champions: Maria Sharapova (2012), Li Na (2011), Francesca Schiavone (2010), Svetlana Kuznetsova (2009), Ana Ivanovic (2008) and Serena Williams (2002).


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