Li Na of China reacts after winning her semi-final match against Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic at the Sydney International tennis tournament in this January 12, 2012 file photo. [Photo/Agencies]
BEIJING - Chinese tennis star Li Na has been named as the 60th member of Laureus World Sports Academy (LWSA), according to the official website of the organization on Wednesday.
The former world No.2 thus becomes the 5th Chinese sports star to join LWSA, whose goal is to spread the positive message that sport can inspire, provide hope and empower young people around the world. The other four are paddler Deng Yaping, short track skater Yang Yang, gymnast Li Xiaopeng and cager Yao Ming.
Li was welcomed into the Academy in Paris by Laureus chairman Sean Fitzpatrick.
"Li Na is one of China's greatest athletes and I'm delighted to welcome her into the Laureus Academy. Throughout her career she became an icon of the sport of tennis and a role model for youngsters in China and around the world. I know she is looking forward to taking her passion for sport into her role as an Academy Member," said Fitzpatrick.
Li is widely regarded as the most successful tennis player ever in China. She was the first Chinese to win a WTA title, the first Chinese to break into the top 10 in world rankings and the first Asian ever to win a Grand Slam.
When interviewed by Laureus official website, the 34-year-old expressed her excitement to join the Academy.
"Sport has given me so much throughout my life. The lessons I learned, the wins and the losses made me into the person I am today. I'm honoured to join this incredible team of sporting legends in the Laureus Academy and I'm looking forward to working with my fellow Academy members, supporting the work of Laureus Sport for good and inspiring young people around the world through sport. I am so happy that this is happening in Paris, which is a city which means so much to me," said Li.