China's Li Na (R) talks with Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia during the opening ceremony for 2017 WTA Wuhan Open in Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei Province, on Sept. 24, 2017. (Xinhua/Ou Dongqu)
The 2017 Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open got underway in grand fashion on Sunday evening with an opening ceremony held on center court at the Optics Valley International Tennis Center.
Hometown star player and national treasure Li Na was joined by 8th seed Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova at the ceremony.
Li Na had some advice for any Chinese youngsters who might be inspired by the goings-on in Wuhan. She urged them to take up rackets for themselves, saying that if one loved the sport, they should "just go for it" and not hesitate to chase their dreams.
Kuznetsova, in Wuhan for her fourth outing after reaching the semifinals last year, said that it was always an honor for her to play in the city, and praised what she called a "very well-organized event."
The ceremony began with a modern dance interpretation of traditional Chinese kung-fu, punctuated by massive projections of the slogan for this year's event: "Come on! Wuhan Open."
The proceedings then turned to showcase the ancient history of the central Chinese metropolis of Wuhan, including a traditional dance complete with drummers playing in sync and female dancers held aloft as they moved to the rhythm of the music.
The Wuhan Open was inaugurated in 2014 and is set to run until 2028. Wuhan, along with Montreal, Rome, Cincinnati, and Doha, is counted among the 'Premier 5' events on the WTA circuit. The event carries a total prize pot of 2.4 million US dollars, and awards the winner 900 WTA points.