Beijing, Jan. 28 (ANI): For the first time in China's history, two women tennis players have made it to semi-finals of a Grand Slam, and their success can be attributed to the unprecedented freedom that Beijing has granted to only a handful of sportspersons.
Although Australian Open semi-finalists - Zheng Jie and Li Na - are both products of China's strictly regimented sports system, they have moved up the WTA rankings only after being given the freedom to manage their own careers, according to an analysis published in the Christian Science Monitor.
Zheng and Li can now choose their own schedules, coaches, and practice partners, and they can spend more time on the international circuit getting the exposure to top-level competition that they need.
The report quoted Zeng Shaoxuan, the top-ranked Chinese male player, as complaining that no Chinese tennis playing men, all of whom rank low in global competition, have been given this much freedom.
He is only 328th on the world rankings, and lamented that "Chinese men don't have many opportunities to play in high-level competition."
Meanwhile, Chinese fans and press understandably are going gaga over Zheng and Li.
"More History Beckons for Chinese Tennis," trumpeted The Global Times in its report on Zheng Jie's crushing quarterfinal victory over the Russian Maria Kirilenko on Tuesday.
"Chinese golden flowers are the best," gushed one web surfer on the sports page of Sohu.com, a popular web portal, referring to the two women. By Wednesday afternoon 40,000 people had left comments about the unexpected news from Melbourne. (ANI)