Tag Archives: Li Na

Li, Wozniacki: Which One Sells Best for Tennis?

From my column on AOL Fanhouse

Li Na is not going to sell. Let’s just cut right to it. If that’s sexist, xenophobic, whatever. She has all the personality and color and warmth in the world, but she speaks broken English and doesn’t have drop dead good looks. In the U.S., that stuff is mandatory. She is not going to sell women’s tennis under any circumstances.
Caroline Wozniacki might. She is clearly trying to be the next Maria Sharapova. She is No. 1, and pushes her good looks and blond hair and short skirts. She’s just 20 years old, and has a chance to lead women’s tennis for years, but she still has to prove she belongs at the top.

That’s what Thursday’s semifinal at the Australian Open was about. Different marketing hopes from different hemispheres. Li won, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 to become the first person from China to advance to a major final. She’ll play Kim Clijsters on Saturday.

And after the match, Li climbed right into every tennis fan’s heart with her smile and wit. She said she couldn’t sleep the night before the because her husband snored so loud.

“I think today,” she said, “he can stay in the bathroom.”

But did I get that right? Did tennis need Wozniacki? It seems that way to me, but there is another side of the world to consider. Continue reading