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Li Na kisses the championship trophy after winning the 2014 Australian Open, her second grand slam title. Photo: AP

Coronavirus: retired tennis star Li Na donates 3 million yuan to support hometown fight against epidemic

  • High-profile Wuhan footballers Wang Shuang and Hao Junmin also make contributions to help their city
  • Wang will not appear in Team China in 2020 Olympic qualifiers in Australia after being confined in Wuhan since Lunar New Year
Li Na
Retired Chinese tennis star Li Na, from Wuhan, has been praised by mainland fans for donating 3 million yuan (US$430,000) to the fight the novel coronavirus epidemic, topping the list of contributions from individual athletes.

Reports in the mainland said Li, the first Asian player to win a singles grand slam title at the 2011 French Open, made the donation through a charity foundation in Beijing.

Li, who also won the 2014 Australian Open title, is an ambassador of the foundation which will use the donation to provide medical materials to designated hospitals in Wuhan.

Fans first wondered why Li had seemingly taken no action to such a crisis in her hometown until the foundation revealed her donation this week.

Li Na speaks during the opening ceremony of the 2019 Wuhan Open tennis tournament. Photo: AFP

One fan said on Sina Sports that Li, 37, had always supported the fight against major disasters and her donations were always among the highest from the sports community.

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Other Wuhan sports stars also made significant contributions.

Footballer Hao Junmin, who was appointed one of three captains by new China national team manager Li Tie last month, donated 500,000 yuan to a district charity foundation in Wuhan. The player was raised in the city and made the donation under “a student from Jianghan district (one of the districts of Wuhan city) Hao Junmin”.

Hao Junmin of China playing in a 2018 World Cup qualifier. Photo: Reuters

Another sports star’s donation applauded by the fans came from Wang Shuang, the 2018 Asian Women’s Footballer of the Year. Wang, who has made 104 appearances for the national team since 2013, donated 600,000 yuan.

The 25-year-old striker, who was in Wuhan for a Lunar New Year reunion with her family, was caught up in the lockdown and could not join her national teammates for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifiers in Australia. .

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The qualification tournament was scheduled to take place in Wuhan in Hubei province, but Chinese authorities then moved it to Nanjing before the entire tournament was taken over by Australia on January 26.

Wang Shuang (second from right) and her teammates at the 2019 Women’s World Cup in Montpellier, France. Photo: Xinhua

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Wang, therefore, will not appear in Team China when they kick off their campaign against Thailand in Sydney on Friday.

Another tennis player from Hubei, Zheng Qinwen, donated all the prize money – 10,000 yuan – she made from the qualifying rounds at last year’s Wuhan Open.

China national football team manager Li, who is not from Wuhan but has strong connections with the city, donated 1 million yuan. Li was the team manager of Chinese Super League club Wuhan Zall from 2018-19 before his elevation to the national hot seat last month.
This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: li na hailed in battle over virus