Business of Sport

Li Na cashing in on success

2011-08-04 14:32
Li Na
Beijing - Reigning French Open tennis champion, Li Na, is on course to become the richest woman in sport, as companies fight to cash in on her enormous popularity in China.

The 29 year-old has played just four matches since her victory at Roland Garros in June – when she became the first Chinese tennis player to win a grand slam.

However, this year she has signed over R280m in sponsorship deals with global brands such as Mercedes-Benz, Rolex and Haagen-Dazs.

Currently, Li is second behind Maria Sharapova, but if Li’s form continues at major events they could soon swap positions thanks to Na’s following in the Chinese market.

Li and Sharapova are both scheduled to play in Toronto next week during the Rogers AT&T Cup.

An estimated 120 million Chinese people watched the French Open final on television.

Terry Rhoads, the former head of sports marketing at Nike, gave Li her first sponsorship deal in 1998.

Rhoads said: “Two years ago, she could not buy a sponsor. Now she is the only person with a Nike deal who is allowed to wear patches from other sponsors on her clothes.”

“They told Nike: 'If you blink, there are a host of Chinese sports brands ready to pay big money’.”

“You have a lot of people searching for someone who has credibility, who can make the needle move and make Chinese stop and think. And Li Na has separated herself from the pack. She speaks English, she has a great personality, and she's a world champion in a sport that China has traditionally not dominated.”

Read more on:    nike  |  li na  |  business of sport


Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
  • Blitz
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @00:00
  • SS1
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @01:00
  • SS2
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @02:00
  • SS3
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @03:00
Video Highlights
Sport Talk
Most Read


Rugby World Cup 2015

All the action from the 2015 RWC, including live coverage of all 48 matches, breaking news, fixtures, results, logs - and much more!


Rugby World Cup 2015

All Blacks batter brave Tonga
Byrne: Israel Folau a 'freak'
As it happened: New Zealand 47-9 Tonga
England World Cup coaches barred
Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...


Take a photographical trip down memory lane and remind yourself of how the Springboks fared in their five previous Rugby World Cup campaigns. In addition, pick your all-time Springbok Rugby World Cup Dream Team and you could win R3 000!

Latest blogs

How far do you see the Springboks progressing in this year's Rugby World Cup tournament?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

iPhone Latest Sport24 news on your iPhone

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.