BEIJING: Chinese tennis fans were divided on Tuesday in their reactions to defending French Open champion Li Na’s shock defeat at Roland Garros, with some critical of the star but others more understanding.
Li, whose victory at last year’s French Open turned her into a national heroine in her home nation, suffered a 3-6, 6-2, 6-0 fourth round defeat at the hands of unseeded Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan on Monday.
The defeat to Shvedova, ranked a lowly 142nd, was one of the most talked-about subjects on Sina Weibo — China’s answer to Twitter — on Tuesday morning, with around 11 million posts mentioning her name.
“What’s wrong with Li Na? It must be because she did not thank her mother country last time,” posted one user of Sina Weibo.
Another blamed Li’s “mood swings” for her defeat, saying they were the 30-year-old world number seven’s “major weakness”, after she had a meltdown in the second set and never recovered.
But other bloggers were more forgiving. “Who can be champion forever?” asked one, while another compared Li to Serena Williams — who went out in the first round — and advised her to “take a rest and keep fighting”.
Li was attempting to be the first French Open women’s champion to defend the title since Justine Henin in 2007.
Li’s triumph last year made her the first Asian to win a singles title in a major and her victory at Roland Garros encouraged many Chinese to take up tennis.
The player, who has not won a title since her Paris victory, hit back at criticism at a tense post-match news conference.