In January 2014, China’s Li Na became the first Asian singles champion of the Grand Slam of Asia-Pacific, defeating Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova 7-6(3) 6-0.
And instead of on emotional acceptance speech in which you routinely thank your opponent, sponsors, officials and fans, Li endeared herself to fans a different way. “Uh. Yeah. Now I have to thank my team.” Li announced, and then started with her manager.
“Max. Agent. Make me rich. Thanks a lot.” She blurted out, causing everyone inside Rod Laver Arena to erupt with laughter.
“Okay, now, of course, my husband.” She continued. "You’re famous in China. Thanks to him with everything; travelling with me as my hitting partner, he fixes my drink, fixes my racquet, so he do a lot of jobs. So thanks a lot, you’re a nice guy... Also you’re so lucky, you found me.”
The speech was so great, #funniestspeechever went viral on Twitter. But Li’s wicked sense of humour wasn’t to be confused with her game on-court. After her win in Melbourne, she ascended to world No.2 and in doing so became the highest-ranked Asian woman in history.
She had also won eight other WTA titles, including Roland Garros in 2011.The popular Chinese player’s Australian Open triumph was especially remarkable considering earlier in the tournament she saved a match point in a third round battle with Lucie Safarova.
It was also her third finals appearance; she previously lost to Kim Clijsters in 2011 and Victoria Azarenka in 2013. And it clearly meant a lot, as Li decided to end her witty speech on a sentimental note, saying that the Australian Open was her favourite tournament to play in. “I’m so happy I can win the title here. I cannot wait. Looking forward to come back.”
She never did (as a player). Li retired at the end of the year and started a family.