Beijing, Jan 31 (PTI) National pride turned into a "rallyof abuse" for tennis player Li Na after she shouted at Chinesespectators not to teach her how to play tennis duringSaturday''s tense final against Kim Clijsters in the AustralianOpen.
While 28-year-old Li, regarded as a rare rebel in tightlycontrolled Chinese sporting scene, became "national hero"after scoring brilliant victories against top pros in thetournament and becoming the first Chinese woman to reachGrand Slam final, her outburst in the summit clash, which shelost, did not go down well at home.
As she came under pressure from Clijsters in the secondset, Li appeared fed up with shouts from Chinese fans givingher advise how to play, prompting her to complain to theBritish umpire saying "can you tell the Chinese spectators notto teach me how to play tennis?"
"There were a lot of people coaching me. It was reallyloud," Li said at the press conference in Chinese after thematch.
Her remarks upset Chinese micro bloggers with somequestioning her attitude, state run ''Global Times'' newspapersaid in a report.
"While being a Chinese, Li asked a foreigner (Britishumpire) to demand the Chinese spectators stop shouting, makingher just like an outsider," it quoted a microblogger assaying.
The Southern Metropolis Daily in its commentary said Li''srequest to the umpire represented her fragile state of mind ina game where she could not control her temper, and also had abad impact on China''s international image.
Commenting on the reaction, Zhou Xiaozheng, a professorof sociology at Renmin University of China, said that anationalist mindset was to blame for the problem. "Chinesespectators have always attached the result of a sportsgame to the national image," Zhou said.
Apparently it was particularly sensitive for Li as shequit official tennis in China after she went ahead and marriedher coach Jiang Shan much against the advises of the officialsof Chinese Tennis establishment.
And the coaching tips from the spectators apparently aimedat putting her husband who was present during the match in atight spot, did not go down well with Li.
At the end of the match, she made it a point to make anemotional complement to her husband saying, "It doesn''t matterif you are fat or skinny, handsome or ugly, I will alwaysfollow you, always love you." (More) PTI KJV SHN
Li''s characteristic style remarks however drew praise from editorial of the Global Times where the official dailysaid Chinese should actually learn from "Li Na''s personality".
"Some foreign media outlets regard Li as a ''Chinesetennis rebel''. Indeed, she has many characteristics tovalidate this new title - she wears a rose tattoo on her chestand employs her husband as personal coach; she first thankedher sponsor at the award ceremony, and even asked the chairumpire during the tense second set: "Can you tell the Chinesedon''t teach me how to play tennis?," the editorial said.
"In fact, such "rebelliousness" didn''t upset the Chinese,because they''ve been fed up with clich�s like "thank myleaders" or "thank my comrades.
Furthermore, being reminded to behave with great care isprobably the last thing they want while watching a game.
Chinese society and its people need to relax. They need alittle humour and open-mindedness to cope with small mistakes,and imperfection should be allowed from time to time.
"Being excessively "correct" can lead to untruthfulnessand pressure. China is not as "correct" as it was in thepast. However, isn''t this China more lovely and real?," theeditorial said.
"The story of Li Na becoming the first Asian to play in aGrand Slam singles final has enriched the narrative of China''srise. Nowadays, many Chinese like Li are going global andpursuing their life goals with their vivid personality. Theyare not obliged to represent China, but they demonstrate amore natural and realistic profile of the nation.
"China is neither perfect nor wicked - it is just acomplicated, colossal developing country. Each and every oneamong us is a part of this complicated entity. With thisthought, we can relax and be ourselves on many occasions," itsaid.