TENNIS GREAT LI NA BECOMES 60TH MEMBER OF LAUREUS WORLD SPORTS ACADEMY

  • Pioneering Chinese tennis star Li Na joins Laureus Family in Paris, the city where she made history as a player
  • ‘I’m honoured to join this incredible team of sporting legends in the Laureus World Sports Academy’ says Li Na
  • Chairman Sean Fitzpatrick inducts Li Na into the Laureus Academy
  • ‘She is a role model for youngsters in China and around the world’ says Fitzpatrick
  • Images of Li Na available at www.laureusarchive.com

PARIS, June 1, 2016 – Legendary Chinese tennis star Li Na has been named the 60th member of the Laureus World Sports Academy. She was inducted in Paris, the city where she became the first Chinese player to win a Grand Slam title in 2011.

The former world No.2 joins the Laureus Academy with the goal of spreading the positive message that sport can inspire, provide hope and empower young people around the world. The 34-year-old joins 59 fellow sporting legends in the Laureus Academy including tennis greats Boris Becker, Ilie Nastase, Martina Navratilova and Monica Seles.

One of China’s greatest ever athletes, Li Na’s tennis career was defined by firsts. She was the first Chinese player to win a WTA title, the first Chinese player to break into the top ten in the world rankings and the first Asian player ever to win a Grand Slam.

Speaking in Paris, Laureus Academy Member Li Na , said: “ Sport has given me so much throughout my life. The lessons I learned, the wins and the losses made me into the person I am today. I’m honoured to join this incredible team of sporting legends in the Laureus Academy and I’m looking forward to working with my fellow Academy Members, supporting the work of Laureus Sport for Good and inspiring young people around the world through sport . I am so happy that this is happening in Paris, which is a city which means so much to me.”

Li Na was welcomed into the Academy in Paris by Laureus Chairman Sean Fitzpatrick . Sean said: “ Li Na is one of China’s greatest ever athletes and I’m delighted to welcome her into the Laureus Academy. Throughout her career she became an icon of the sport of tennis and a role model for youngsters in China and around the world. I know she is looking forward to taking her passion for sport into her role as an Academy Member. Li Na is a great pioneer for tennis in her country. There are already a lot more Chinese players out there and I think we'll see even more in the future thanks to Li Na.”

A talented tennis player from a young age, Li Na became professional in 1999 and went on to win nine singles Women's Tennis Association and 19 International Tennis Federation titles throughout her career. As well as winning the 2011 French Open, Li Na also achieved Grand Slam glory at the Australian Open in 2014. She retired from the professional game in September 2014 following a serious knee injury. In 2015, Li Na was presented with the Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award at the Laureus World Sports Awards in Shanghai.

Laureus Academy Members support the work of Laureus Sport for Good. Since its inception, Laureus has raised over €100 million for projects which have helped to improve the lives of millions of young people. The mission of Laureus Sport for Good is to use sport as a means to tackle some of the toughest social challenges facing young people today such as violence, discrimination and disadvantage.  

In China, Laureus currently supports the Special Olympics movement through the Unified Sports programme. The programme works throughout China and involves over 50,000 athletes and partners, focusing on the issue of inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities directly with their peers.  

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Laureus is a universal movement that celebrates the power of sport to bring people together as a force for good. Laureus is composed of three core elements - the Laureus World Sports Academy, Laureus Sport for Good and the Laureus World Sports Awards - which collectively celebrate sporting excellence and use sport as the means to promote social change. The first Patron of Laureus was Nelson Mandela. At the inaugural Laureus World Sports Awards in 2000, he said: “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair.” This has become the philosophy of Laureus; the driving force behind its work. The members of the Laureus World Sports Academy are: Giacomo Agostini, Marcus Allen, Franz Beckenbauer, Boris Becker, Ian Botham, Sergey Bubka, Cafu, Bobby Charlton, Sebastian Coe, Nadia Comaneci, Yaping Deng, Marcel Desailly, Kapil Dev, Mick Doohan, David Douillet, Rahul Dravid, Luis Figo, Emerson Fittipaldi, Sean Fitzpatrick (Chairman), Dawn Fraser, Cathy Freeman, Tanni Grey-Thompson, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Mika Häkkinen, Tony Hawk, Maria Höfl-Riesch, Mike Horn, Miguel Indurain, Michael Johnson, Kip Keino, Franz Klammer, Tegla Loroupe, Dan Marino, Yao Ming, Edwin Moses, Nawal El Moutawakel, Li Na, Robby Naish, Ilie Nastase, Martina Navratilova, Alexey Nemov, Jack Nicklaus, Brian O’Driscoll, Alessandro Del Piero, Gary Player, Morné du Plessis, Hugo Porta, Carles Puyol, Raúl, Steve Redgrave, Vivian Richards, Monica Seles, Mark Spitz, Sachin Tendulkar, Daley Thompson, Alberto Tomba, Steve Waugh, Katarina Witt, Li Xiaopeng and Yang Yang. The Laureus Academy Members volunteer their services as global ambassadors for Laureus Sport for Good, which was set up to promote the use of sport as a tool for social change. Laureus Sport for Good addresses social challenges through a worldwide programme of sports related community development initiatives. Since its inception, Laureus has raised over €100 million for projects which have helped to improve the lives of millions of young people. The mission of Laureus Sport for Good is to use sport as a means to combat some of the toughest social challenges facing young people today such as violence and crime, discrimination, unemployment, lack of education and health threats including HIV/AIDS and obesity. The Laureus World Sports Awards is the premier global sports awards honouring the greatest sportsmen and women across all sports each year. The winners are selected by the ultimate sports jury – 60 members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, the living legends of sport honouring the great athletes of today. The Awards are presented at an annual Awards Ceremony, attended by global figures from sport and entertainment, which is broadcast to 160 countries and territories. The Awards continue to support Laureus Sport for Good by showcasing the incredible work it does with athletes and partners to transform the lives of individuals and promoting to a global audience the power of sport as a development tool to combat challenging social issues. Laureus was founded by its Patrons Richemont and Daimler and is supported by its Global Partners Mercedes-Benz and IWC Schaffhausen. Mercedes-BenzMercedes-Benz is the inventor of the automobile – and has been passionately shaping its future since 1886. As pioneers in automotive engineering, it is both our inspiration and responsibility to continue the tradition of the brand with trailblazing technologies and high-quality products. Like no other trademark in the automotive world, Mercedes-Benz appeals to both the hearts and minds of its customers. We give our very best for customers who expect the very best. Since the founding fathers Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz, our corporate history has been one of innovation and pioneering achievements. Many technical innovations that are nowadays standard in automobiles first entered the market in a Mercedes-Benz. This is the basis for our claim to leadership in automotive engineering. The brand stands for Modern Luxury, and enjoys an outstanding reputation for quality, safety, comfort, design and comprehensive, sustainable mobility. IWC SchaffhausenWith a clear focus on technology and development, the Swiss watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen has been producing timepieces of lasting value since 1868. The company has gained an international reputation based on a passion for innovative solutions and technical ingenuity. One of the world’s leading brands in the luxury watch segment, IWC crafts masterpieces of haute horlogerie at their finest, combining supreme precision with exclusive design. As an ecologically and socially responsible company, IWC is committed to sustainable production, supports institutions around the globe in their work with children and young people and maintains partnerships with organisations dedicated to climate and environmental protection.

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