Li Na: My Life (Anglais) Broché – 13 août 2014
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There are differences between the English version and Chinese version of the book, not least is the price. The Chinese version was published in August 2012 and the English one at the end of 2013. So the latter covered Li's 2013 Australian Open campaign as well as her coach Carlos Rodriguez' prediction that she would rise to top three in the world. The prediction materialized in October 2013 when Li did reach the position of world number three. Besides the addition of new material, the other difference worth mentioning is that the English version is not a direct translation of the Chinese one. I compared the chapter on Marriage and found that some information is missing from the English version. The order or sequence of some of the events is a bit different as well. Certainly some editing has been done to the English version.
In the book, Li described her deep love of her father. Unfortunately, her father passed away when she was only 14 years old. Her mother re-married after death of her father in less than two years. This further traumatized Li. She did not like to live with her mother and step-father. This left Li desolate. Fortunately she later found company in Jiang Shan. They trained since Li was 12 and they fell in love when Li turned 16. They married in 2006 when Li was 23. Since Li was in discord with the Chinese tennis authorities, Jiang had filled in the gaps and given her a lot of support both emotionally and technically throughout the years. Li wrote in the book she had unfailing love for Jiang and would follow him everywhere.
She turned `solo' in 2008 meaning that she was no longer managed by the Chinese Tennis Association. She could now form her own team including her own coach. Having a private coach instead of a shared one was what she wanted all along since she felt a private coach would specifically cater to her special needs and would unleash her potential and help boost her career. This turns out to be true. However, the road to get solo was a bumpy one and there were a lot of obstacles along it.
She also described her struggle with injuries. She had undergone knee surgeries three times. I think women are more emotional. In the book Li recalled numerous occasions where she would suffer defeats caused by injuries and cast doubt on whether her career could go on. She would weep alone in despair. This sheds light on how brutal a career in sports can be. You not only have to fight opponents but also your injuries as well. I have read autobiographies by Michael Chang, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and Rafael Nadal. None of these male players expressed feelings and emotions as deeply as Li did.
In summary, Li Na is candid in her autobiography. During on court interviews after victories, you always find an ebullient Li cracking jokes with the reporters. What we do not see is that there is a long series of struggles and sacrifices behind the success of a girl from a country where tennis is not a national sport (yet) and well developed.
If you want to know more about the most prominent female tennis player in China, this is the book.
Unfortunately, because the book was originally published in 2012, it does not include the last two years of Li's life, including an emotional win at the 2014 Australian Open. I imagine that these last two years would be the most interesting and compelling of Li's entire life, so I am quite surprised that she didn't wait until retirement to write. This small unfortunate point aside, the book is worth a read for Li fans.