Made her ITF debut in 1996, losing in straight sets at Beijing at age 14. Next played professionally in 1999, winning three straight ITF titles. Totaled a 29-7 record in ITF play.
Won seven more titles ITF titles in the first six months of the 2000 season before debuting on the WTA tour at Tashkent, losing in the first round. Made her Grand Slam debut in the qualifying rounds of the US Open, winning her first match, then losing her next. Competed for China at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, losing in the first round. Recorded her first WTA main draw tournament win at Shanghai, defeating No. 81 Jing-Qian Yi.
Scaled back her play in 2001, missing time due to injuries, and finishing just 11-6. Injuries cut her 2002 season short on April 9, with a 15-3 ITF record. Did not compete at all in 2003, finally returning to action in May 2004 to win the Beijing ITF. Was one of four straight ITF victories for her, followed by two more finals before returning to WTA play in September, reaching the second round at Beijing as a qualifier and taking No. 5 Svetlana Kuznetsova to three sets. Followed that up with her first tour title, winning Guangzhou to leap from No. 145 to No. 89. Between ITF and WTA action, went 51-4.
Began a full WTA schedule in 2005, reaching the semifinals at Hobart and the third round of the Australian Open. Reached the fourth round at Dubai to climb into the Top 50, then the finals at Estoril to leap to 35th. Injuries again put a damper on her season, as she missed three months - including the French Open and Wimbledon - finishing the season 29-14.
Struggled out of the blocks in 2006, falling all the way back to 71st by the end of February. Regained some of her form with a fourth-round appearance at Indian Wells, and reached the Estoril final again, but had to retire. Made huge strides at Berlin with a semifinal appearance that included a win over No. 9 Patty Schnyder to spring back inside the Top 40, then reached the third round of the French Open to jump to a new best of No. 32. Shined even brighter at WImbledon, taking out No. 6 Svetlana Kuznetsova in the third round and No. 13 Nicole Vaidisova in the fourth before losing to Kim Clijsters in the quarterfinals, moving her to No. 22. Made the fourth round of the US Open to finish the season 43-21.
Begin to find true consistency in 2008, reaching the semifinals of Sydney and the fourth round of the Australian Open to start the season. Excelled in the American spring, reaching the Indian Wells semifinals and the Miami quarterfinals, including a win over No. 5 Clijsters, only to have injury rear its ugly head, ending her season after Birmingham in June while ranked No. 18 in the world.
Came back firing on all cylinders to start 2008, winning the title at Gold Coast including wins over three Top 20 players. Reached the semifinals of Antwerp and Doha back to back, then put on a magical performance in her home country during the 2008 Olympics, knocking off No. 3 Kuznetsova and No. 8 Venus Williams before falling in the semifinals to Dinara Safina. Finished the season 29-15 and back inside the Top 30.
Missed the first month of the 2009 season due to lingering injuries, but picked things up with a finals appearance at Monterrey in early March. Went four rounds deep at Roland Garros to return to No. 20, then lost in the finals at Birmingham. Was strong at the US Open, reaching the quarterfinals where she lost to eventual champion Clijsters, but moved up to a career-best No. 16, following that with a semifinal appearance at Tokyo.
Made her first Grand Slam semifinal appearance to start 2010, beating No. 6 Caroline Wozniacki and No. 6 Venus Williams before falling to Serena Williams at the Australian Open, promoting her to No. 10 in the world. Struggled in the spring until clay court season, where she regained her form, leading to a title at Birmingham over Maria Sharapova. Reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon, but was ousted again by Serena Williams, eventually climbing to No. 9 in the world before a first-round upset loss at the US Open. Ended the year just outside the Top 10 with a 36-20 season mark.
Kicked off 2011 with a win at Sydney over No. 3 Kim Clijsters, then reached her first Grand Slam final, upsetting No. Wozniacki in the semifinals before falling to Clijsters in the championship of the Australian Open. The victory saw her climb to a career best No. 7. Reached the semifinals at Rome and Madrid, leading up to her first Grand Slam title, as she won the French Open by knocking off four straight Top 10 players, including No. 5 Francesca Schiavone, the defending champion, in the final - 6-4, 7-6(0). Surged to No. 4 in the world, becoming the first Chinese woman to win a Slam and the first to be ranked in the Top 5 or the Top 10. Cooled off considerably the rest of the way - losing in the second round of Wimbledon and the first round of the US Open. Went 1-2 in the WTA Championships with a win over Sharapova to end the season 32-17.
Reached the finals at Sydney to begin 2012, and another final at Rome. Was upset by No. 142 Yaroslava Shvedova in the fourth round of the French Open to fall out of the Top 10. Won her first tournament of the year at Cincinnati to move back to No. 8, and went 1-2 in the WTA Championships. Despite winning just one title, it was her best season in terms of wins, as she went 42-17.
Career Grand Slam Titles (1): Singles - 2012 French Open
Year-End Singles Rankings: 2012: 7
Off the Court
Is the daughter of Sheng-Peng and Yan-Ping, and has no brothers or sisters. Married Jiang Shan on Jan. 27, 2006. Did not start playing tennis at age nine after being exposed to badmitton. Is a student at the Huazhong Institute of Science and Technology. In 2010, she donated her prize money from Madrid ($79,513) to the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation.