Media criticism nearly drove Li to retirement

Tue Jan 14, 2014 11:00pm EST
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Disillusionment with negative reporting in her home media nearly saw Li Na give up the game last year in the wake of her early French Open exit, the Chinese number one said at the Australian Open on Wednesday.

Li, who won the 2011 French Open to become Asia's first grand slam singles winner, suffered the criticism after being bundled out in the second round at Roland Garros by American Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

China's trailblazer Li has long endured a sensitive relationship with her country's media, which has been quick to condemn as well as heap praise on their most successful player, but the critical reports that dogged Li in the leadup to Wimbledon took their toll.

"It was a very negative thing," Li told reporters. "I could say something but (what) they would write down in the newspaper was totally wrong.

"They make me very - they gave me a very tough time when I played the French Open, and it continued to Wimbledon.

"It's not (all) the Chinese media. It's some of them.

"But someone, maybe they wanted to be more famous, you know, so that's why they always write down something I never said or another way round.

"But I was really happy (to) do well in Wimbledon, so that's why I continue until now. Otherwise I don't know where I am now," she added smiling.   Continued...

Li Na of China celebrates defeating Belinda Bencic of Switzerland in their women's singles match at the Australian Open 2014 tennis tournament in Melbourne January 15, 2014. REUTERS/Jason Reed