Retired Tennis Star Li Na Gets new China-Exclusive Signature Collection From Nike
Chinese tennis legend Li Na has been retired for almost three years, but she is still getting endorsements in her native land. Nike recently launched a China-exclusive signature collection that will help players at the grass-roots level.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the Nike project is aimed to honor Li's accomplishments and to encourage more girls to play tennis. It helps that a global brand like Nike uses sports stars since the Chinese government wants to promote sports in the country.
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The managing director of the marketing-research agency of the Shanghai office of Kantar Millward Brown, Chirantan Ray, believes that promoting Li is going to create a lot of interest in the sport of tennis. She is one of the most recognizable sports stars in China along with former Houston Rockets star Yao Ming.
"I was a bit surprised but I believe that sport is relatively fair in that the performance speaks for itself," Li said told WSJ when asked about the result of a poll. Li was voted China's most bankable sports star, beating out Yao and swimmer Ning Zetao.
Li became famous in China after when she became the first Asian player to ever win a Grand Slam championship. She won the 2011 French Open after defeating Francesca Schiavone in the final. She followed it up by winning the 2014 Australian Open.
The 35-year-old tennis star was ranked World No. 2 back in 2014 in her last season. She retired on Sept. 14, 2014, after a left knee injury required surgery. She was the World No. 6 at the time of retirement, per WTA Tennis.
Besides Nike, Li has endorsement deals with brands like Mercedes-Benz and Rolex. She also has a growing personal brand in China with about 22 million followers on Weibo, the country's version of Twitter. She is also open to having a position in the government and going into business.
Currently, Li is enjoying retirement. She is the mother of two beautiful children with husband, Jiang Shan. She is also the main reason why tennis became a very popular sport in East Asia, and she is considered as a pioneer in the sport.