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By Erik Gudris | Friday, September 19, 2014

Li Na

Two-time Grand Slam champion Li Na of China announced her retirement due to continuing knee issues in a statement posted on Facebook.

Photo Credit: Corleve

China's Li Na, who won two Grand Slam titles including this year's Australian Open, announced her retirement in a statement posted on Facebook.

The 32-year-old Wuhan native announced the news in a heartfelt and lengthy post describing her decision. Li cites recent surgery on her left knee, and an inability to train afterwards as being a prime factor in the decision.

"After four knee surgeries and hundreds of shots injected into my knee weekly to alleviate swelling and pain, my body is begging me to stop the pounding. My previous three surgeries were on my right knee. My most recent knee surgery took place this July and was on my left knee. After a few weeks of post-surgery recovery, I tried to go through all the necessary steps to get back on the court," Li said in the post.

"While I’ve come back from surgery in the past, this time it felt different. One of my goals was to recover as fast as I could in order to be ready for the first WTA tournament in my hometown of Wuhan. As hard as I tried to get back to being 100%, my body kept telling me that, at 32, I will not be able to compete at the top level ever again. The sport is just too competitive, too good, to not be 100%.

Saying "I am at peace with it. I have no regrets." Li looks forward to helping grow the sport in her native China while also being amazed at the amount of success she achieved.

Viewed as a tennis pioneer in her country, Li's success sparked a growth in professional tournaments in her home country. That includes next week's Wuhan Open scheduled to feature all WTA top 20 players.

Known for her candor and humor, Li became a popular player among her fellow pros and fans around the world.

Li ended her statment by saying, "Whether you want to be a tennis player, a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher or a business leader, I urge you to believe in yourself and follow your dream. If I could do it, you can too! Be the bird that sticks out. With hard work, your dreams will come true."

"In addition to her amazing tennis abilities and her warm and humorous personality, she is a pioneer who opened doors to tennis for hundreds of millions of people throughout China and Asia. Her legacy is immense and I have no doubt that her contributions to the WTA will be seen for decades to come," WTA Chief Executive Stacey Allaster said. "It's hard to be a household name in a nation with 1.4 billion people, but that's what Li Na is."

Li, who reached a career high ranking of No. 2 in the world, won two Grand Slam singles titles - Melbourne earlier this year and the 2011 French Open.

Her complete statement can be found here.


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