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Tennis: Li secures spot at WTA Champs, appointed Right to Play Ambassador

ChampsAnnouncement_L#7DA3EE_cropSeptember 27, 2013: World No. 5 Li Na has become the latest player to qualify for this year’s TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships, which will be held at the Sinan Erdem Dome in Istanbul, Turkey, from October 22-27.

 

The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) announcement came a day after the news that Li will be a Global Athlete Ambassador for Right To Play, an organisation that uses the power of play to educate and empower kids facing adversity.

 

The WTA Championships showcases the world’s best women tennis players as the top eight singles players and top four doubles teams compete for a record-setting US$6 million in prize money and one of the most prestigious titles in women’s tennis.

 

Li, 31, is the fifth player to qualify for the year-end event, joining World No. 1 Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova and Agnieszka Radwanska.

 

“I’m so happy to have qualified again for the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships as one of the top eight players this season,” Li said. “I had a great time in Istanbul last year and I’m looking forward to coming back and playing my best tennis for the fans in Turkey.”

 

Stacey Allaster, WTA Chairman and CEO, was delighted Li would be competing in Istanbul for a third straight year, before the elite season-ending competition moves to Singapore for five years from 2014.

 

“Congratulations to Li Na on securing her qualification for the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships for the third year in a row,” Allaster said. “Her personality and exciting brand of tennis endears her to tennis fans around the world, as Li continues to inspire generations of tennis players.”

 

Li began the season by winning her seventh WTA title in front of her home fans at the Shenzhen Longgang Gemdale Open. The 2011 French Open champion then advanced to her third career Grand Slam final at the Australian Open, finishing runner-up to Azarenka after a dramatic three-set final.

 

Another finals appearance followed, this time on clay at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix (Stuttgart), in addition to semi-final showings on hardcourt at the Apia International Sydney, Rogers Cup (Toronto), Western and Southern Open (Cincinnati) and, for the first time, the US Open.

 

In 2011, Li became the first Chinese player to qualify for the WTA Championships singles competition and this year will be bidding to advance past the round-robin stage for the first time.

 

Li’s role as a Global Athlete Ambassador for Right To Play was announced on Thursday as she visited Right To Play programmes at Beijing School For The Blind.

Li Na visits Right To Play programmes at Beijing School For The Blind. Photo: Right to Play.

Li Na visits Right To Play programmes at Beijing School For The Blind. Photo: Right to Play.

“Being with these children helps to give me perspective as an athlete,” she said. “I get to play tennis every day as my job. It’s hard to imagine being a child and not having the chance to play. It’s every child’s right, no matter where they come from or what their abilities are.

 

“That’s why I want to be an Athlete Ambassador for Right To Play. I want to help make sure children like the students here are given every opportunity to have fun and learn through play.”

 

Li participated in activities with kids aged 10-14 at the school, where Right To Play games have been adapted to meet their needs. Led by teachers trained as Right To Play Coaches, the programme uses play-based learning to promote inclusion, build confidence and help kids develop communication skills.

 

Right To Play currently reaches one million children across over 20 countries through regular weekly play activities. Over the next five years, Li hopes to provide another 50,000 children with access to Right To Play programmes.

 

Li joins a team of over 300 Athlete Ambassadors from 40 countries. As role models they inspire kids and celebrate their successes, and help raise awareness by lending their voice to the cause.

 

“Li Na is truly a global athlete and we are very excited to have her join the team,” said President and CEO Johann Koss, a four-time Olympic gold medallist who founded Right To Play in 2000.

 

“Her tremendous success and profile as a global tennis star combined with her dedication to children will bring inspiration to children everywhere and awareness to every child’s right to play.”

 

For more information on WTA, visit: www.wtatennis.com

For more information on Right To Play, visit: www.righttoplay.com

 

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