Li hopes to develop more local champions

Updated: 2015-04-16 02:53

By  Matt Hodges in Shanghai and Lei Lei in Beijing(China Daily)

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Li hopes to develop more local champions

Latest honor: Retired tennis star Li Na is named winner of the Laureus Exceptional Achievement Award on Wednesday at the 2015 Laureus World Sports Awards in Shanghai. [Photo by GAO ERQIANG / China Daily]

Double Grand Slam tennis champion Li Na, who announced her retirement in September because of a lingering knee injury, spoke on Wednesday about her plans to set up a tennis academy to develop more national stars.

She was speaking after she received the Laureus Exceptional Achievement Award in Shanghai.

"I hope I can run a tennis school and get more young Chinese people involved in the sport," said Li, 33.

She won the 2011 French Open and the 2014 Australian Open and had a career-best world No 2 ranking. Her glittering achievements inspired a generation of tennis enthusiasts across the nation and greatly enhanced the sport's popularity.

However, Li, who is pregnant, is enjoying life off the court.

"Having a baby is the best gift for me. My husband is even cooking for me," said Li.

The Laureus World Sports Awards is an annual ceremony that honors top sportsmen and women and outstanding achievements.

Li was also nominated as sportswoman of the year, but the prize went to Ethiopian runner Genzebe Dibaba, who broke three world records in three different events in two weeks.

The exceptional achievement award is a special honor presented to superstars. Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, was the first winner in 2013.

China's former NBA all-star center Yao Ming won the newcomer award in 2003, Olympic hurdler Liu Xiang won it in 2005 and the Chinese Olympic team won the team award in 2009.

World top-ranked tennis player Novak Djokovic from Serbia won the World Sportsman of the Year Award at Wednesday's ceremony.

Germany's World Cup-winning soccer squad won the team of the year prize. Germany beat Argentina 1-0 in last year's final in Brazil to win its fourth World Cup title and first in 24 years.

South African rugby player Schalk Burger, who survived life-threatening bacterial meningitis to return to Springboks team, won the comeback of the year award.

Australian motor racer Daniel Ricciardo won the breakthrough of the year award.

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