Australian Open

Tough being a role model: Li

2014-01-17 12:42
Li Na (AP Photo)

Melbourne - Tennis trailblazer Li Na has won millions of young fans who follow her every move, but the 31-year-old admitted it was sometimes tough dealing with the pressure of being a role model.

As Asia's first major tennis star, Li now has more than 10 million fans on Chinese social media and featured on the cover of TIME magazine's 2013 list of the world's most influential people.

Over the years she has earned a reputation as a maverick and a prickly character in China, a nation where state-trained sports stars typically keep their emotions strictly in check.

Li opted out of government control in 2008, enabling her to choose her own coaches and keep most of her winnings.

However, she admitted it is not always easy to set a good example for her fans.

"Now I feel a lot of pressure, you know, because so many children, they look up to you, what you do on the court, off the court," she said, after reaching the Australian Open fourth round.

"So right now I really play tennis for myself. I cannot say a bad word, otherwise children will copy me. So many bad things I cannot do," she smiled.

Li is under intense scrutiny from Chinese media, to the extent that she said this week that it almost caused her to quit during a difficult run last year.

But the 2011 French Open champion said behaving herself in public had now become a way of life.

"Sometimes we go to a party, we have a drink or something. The next day they put in newspaper, 'She likes to drink', but they didn't put the situation," she said.

"So, yeah, after I read the newspaper, I said, 'Okay, I can't even drink when I'm at a party'. I said, 'Okay, only water, healthy'."

Read more on:    australian open  |  li na  |  tennis
NEXT ON SPORT24X

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com 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
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
Live Video Streaming
  • SS3
    Tue, 29 Jul 2014 @
    04:00
  • SS4
    Tue, 29 Jul 2014 @
    05:00
  • SS5
    Tue, 29 Jul 2014 @
    05:59
  • SS7
    Tue, 29 Jul 2014 @
    06:00
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Vote

Which is your favourite Grand Slam of the year?

 
 
Featured Blog

Dave ask if you would like to meet your local sports heroes and stand the chance to win prizes to the value of over R40 000.

Latest blogs
 

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Newsletters Sign up for the Morning Glory, Super 15 and Soccer newsletters

Blogs Yes your opinion counts. Get it out there

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

Mobile Sport24 on your mobile phone - WAP, alerts, downloads, services

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

iPhone Latest Sport24 news on your iPhone

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

TV schedule Plan your couch time with our searchable sport TV guide

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

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