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Li happy to spark China tennis boom

AFP-JIJI

Australian Open finalist Li Na said Monday she is pleased her on-court success has triggered a tennis boom in her native China as she prepares to launch her clay-court season at Stuttgart’s WTA tournament.

“Now so many kids want to be professionals, they see the games broadcast on television. When I was little, it was quite different,” admitted the 31-year-old, who is the second seed in Stuttgart behind Maria Sharapova.

Li is a megastar in China where her 2011 French Open triumph was watched by 125 million on television, while an estimated 400 million watched the news the morning after.