China’s two-time Grand Slam winner Li Na announced her retirement from professional tennis on Friday, citing recurring knee problems.
“Walking away from the sport, effective immediately, is the right decision for me and my family,” she said in a statement posted on social media. “It took me several agonizing months to finally come to the decision that my chronic injuries will never again let me be the tennis player that I can be.”
He plans now include opening a tennis school to train the next generation in China, Ming Pao reported.
Li started her training as professional tennis player at the age of 6. She won the French Open in 2011, becoming the first Asian tennis player to win a Grand Slam singles title.
“I’ve succeeded on the global stage in a sport that a few years ago was in its infancy in China,” she wrote in a message posted on Sina weibo. “What I’ve accomplished for myself is beyond my wildest dreams. What I accomplished for my country is one of my most proud achievements.
“After four knee surgeries and hundreds of shots injected into my knee weekly to alleviate swelling and pain, my body is begging me to stop the pounding,” the Chinese tennis star said in an open letter to fans.
Her most recent knee surgery took place this July and was on the left knee, she said, adding that the previous three surgeries were on the right knee.
“As hard as I tried to get back to being 100%, my body kept telling me that, at 32, I will not be able to compete at the top level ever again. The sport is just too competitive, too good, to not be 100%,” she added.
The world number six said she plans to open the Li Na Tennis Academy, which will provide scholarships for the future generation of Chinese tennis stars.
Also, she will continue to be involved with Right to Play, an organization dedicated to helping underprivileged children overcome challenges through sport.
On the personal front, Li said she will spend more time with her family and that she looks forward to “slowing down and living my life at a new, slower, relaxed pace”.
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