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Li Na could make Tennis Hall of Fame history

Published:Thursday | August 23, 2018 | 12:10 AM
In this Jan. 25, 2014 photo, Li Na, of China, holds the championship trophy after defeating Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia in their women's singles final at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia. Li Na could become the first player from Asia elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Li Na could become the first player from Asia elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

The two-time major champion from China is one of eight Grand Slam title winners who are candidates for the International Tennis Hall of Fame's Class of 2019, a list that includes Goran Ivanisevic, Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Conchita Martinez.

Also on the slate revealed yesterday for the hall's first election that will include a fan vote: Jonas Bjorkman, Sergi Bruguera, Thomas Muster and Mary Pierce.

Li retired at age 32 because of recurring knee injuries in 2014, about eight months after winning the Australian Open and rising to a career-best No. 2 in the World Tennis Association rankings. She also won the 2011 French Open by beating four top-10 opponents along the way, making her the first Asian-born tennis player to collect any Grand Slam singles trophy.




Her success on the court, and engaging personality off it, helped grow her sport back home.

"Tennis' history in China is still young, and it's been a privilege for me to be part of the sport becoming so popular there," said Li, who also was the Australian Open runner-up in 2011 and 2013. "I've loved to see so many young people get involved and to see more of a presence from China on the tours."

The hall of fame, which is based in Newport, Rhode Island, will post the online ballot for fans on Monday; that portion of the voting will close on October 7. The top three vote getters will each get a boost to the percentage of support they receive from the main selection panel of members of the hall of fame, journalists and tennis historians.

Candidates need a total of 75 pe rcent of the vote to be elected. The inductees will be announced in January.