LONDON (AP) — Li Na has always been willing to speak her mind, often with a dose of humor, whether she’s criticizing her husband in a stadium interview for snoring or correcting a reporter for a question that might not have told the whole story.
Li was at it again Wednesday after her 6-2, 6-2 second-round win over Yvonne Meusburger at Wimbledon.
Her ever-improving English has helped, along with the respect that two Grand Slam titles — the 2011 French Open and this year’s Australian Open — brings.
Asked what her favorite court surface was, grass or clay, she deadpanned: “Hard court.”
After the laughter stopped, Li explained that “every court is interesting for me because I have to play every court. For us eight months a year we play on hard courts, but grass only one month.”
Asked later whether she was concerned about the high number of unforced errors in her match (21) she replied: “But I hit a lot of winners (33), right?”
Then her explanation:
“If you want to play more aggressive, this is the normal way,” she said. “If you play defensive, of course you will make less mistakes, but you can have a lot of winners.”
Li revealed she took a journalism course to help her better understand the people who sit across the press conference room from her. Earlier in her career, she frequently faced stinging criticism from the Chinese media in particular, and said she was often misquoted.
“I didn’t have good communication with some journalists,” Li said, adding that she hoped the courses might help her come up with better answers to often complex questions.
The next one wasn’t so difficult: Would she like to become a journalist after she finishes playing tennis?
“You know, for my dream after retire, I want (to) be (a) housewife,” she said.
Second-seeded Li and Meusburger played their match on Court 2 on Wednesday. Defending men’s champion Andy Murray was on Court 1 and five-time former champion Venus Williams was on Court 3, leading to rumblings that those quality players should have played on Centre Court.
Li, who played the first match Wednesday on her court, wasn’t about to complain.
“Doesn’t matter, I love to be the first match,” she said. “You don’t have to wait.”
And then came the inevitable questions about her husband, Jiang Shan, who was her coach and often verbal sparring partner until Justine Henin’s former coach Carlos Rodriquez took over in October 2012. Li often quipped that hiring Rodriguez saved her marriage.
She also joked during courtside interviews at the Australian Open several years ago that Jiang snored so much they used to have separate hotel rooms on the road.
“The funny thing is, I think two years ago in China, someone said I was divorced,” Li said in Melbourne last year. “Because they were thinking, we’re always shouting, maybe we’re divorced. It’s just being coach and husband is — how you say — tough to find a balance!”
That balance is coming, Li said Wednesday.
“Yeah, much, much easier,” Li said. “The husband as the coach is very tough.”
And an update on the snoring?
“Getting better,” she said, smiling.
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