Joining Li for the event on January 1st was her friend Petra Kvitova, currently ranked no. 6 in the world. During the event, forty lucky youngsters were welcomed onto the center court to hit against the star players. Many others received autographs from Li and Kvitova in addition to participating in training activities. Li retired from the sport in 2014, however she remains one of the popular tennis stars in Asia and the recent growth of the sport in her home country is partly attributed to her popularity and example.
Opening the WTA Shenzhen Open, one of the first women’s event of 2016, was the inaugural Li Na’s Children’s Day. Inspired by Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day, the annual celebration which kicks off the US Open tournament in New York City and attended by thousands, former world no. 2 ranked player and Grand Slam Champion Li Na wanted to start a similar event in China. Her hope is that is will expose more children there to tennis and lead them to participate in the sport.