Tennis icon Li Na unexpectedly interrupted Zheng Qinwen’s interview, surprising her with a friendly pat on the backside during their first face-to-face encounter.
While the 21-year-old Zheng was engaged in a media interview after her 6-4 2-6 7-6(8) victory over fellow Chinese Wang Yafan in the Australian Open’s third round, Li spontaneously showed up, catching Zheng off guard by casually slapping her on the butt. Very excited to see the two-time major champion in person, Zheng immediately hugged her with a wide smile on her face. During a lighthearted conversation, Li congratulated Zheng on reaching her first Australian Open Round of 16.
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Zheng, currently the highest-ranked WTA player from China at No.15, shared her experience of meeting Li. Despite having crossed paths with Li once before, this was their first opportunity to have a conversation:
“She just went to me like this, say congratulations. I was feeling super happy to meet her and have the chance to talk with her because I never talked with her in person. That was feeling really special for me.”
Qinwen Zheng x Li Na pic.twitter.com/OKUwHzEcAg
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 20, 2024
As the 12th-seeded Zheng anticipates her fourth-round encounter with Oceane Dodin, eyeing a chance to secure her second consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinal, Li offered a straightforward piece of advice.
“She said to me don’t think too much, just keep simple,” Zheng shared with reporters. “I think that’s right now what I need to do as well, yeah.”
Li, the first Grand Slam singles champion from Asia, has returned to Melbourne to participate in the legends’ tournament.