Exclusive by Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rudd
Li Na, whose controversial comments to Chinese media following her earliest ever French Open exit, is going to request a wildcard for the 2013 AEGON International according to sources close to http://www.eastbournetennis.com
Li, twice a Wimbledon quarter-finalist and 2011 French Open champion, hasn’t entered the grass court event in Birmingham so is expected to be at Devonshire Park for what promises to be a tough draw in the Ladies event.
The Chinese no1 was questioned after her three set defeat to American ace Bethanie Mattek-Sands but did not take kindly to this.
Li retorted: “Do I need to explain? It’s strange. I lost a game and that’s it. Do I need to get on my knees and apologise to them?”
Zhang Rongfeng, a journalist for China’s official press agency Xinhua News, has controversially reported: “Her bad temper and losing the game and were direct triggers of her episode at the presser.
“But if we take a closer look, her unfriendliness has a lot to do with her lack of professionalism. As a successful athlete, Li Na may be very professional with her training, game experience, PR team operation, and so on – but she is not with her attitude towards the media. She’s impatient and not respectful enough to the media.”
Li arrived at Roland Garros having easily dispatched Mattek-Sandsen route to the final in Stuttgart last month, but following a second break for rain lost seven games on the trot that cost her the chance of progressing into the French Open 3rd Round.
Li was swift to defend this lapse at the press conference and said: “I know for sure I lost seven games in a row. But to go back to the court three times is a very tough condition, you know.”
Should Li return to Eastbourne’s Devonshire Park this summer, then no doubt the unpredictable English summer could also upset her and result in more excuses as well as controversial comments that are seeing the Chinese no1’s popularity starting to slip.