Zheng Jie Loses to Serena, but Makes History

  • Share
  • Read Later

Multiple rain delays surely kept millions of Zheng Jie’s Chinese fans up late watching the Wimbledon women’s singles semi-final Thursday. Sichuan native Zheng lost to Serena Williams in straight sets, but made history as the first Chinese tennis player to reach a grand slam singles semi-finals. (An estimated 100 million viewers tuned in to watch her quarter-final match, when the world 133 player defeated 18th seed Nicole Vaidisova of Czechoslovakia Tuesday.) Zheng and her doubles partner Li Na Yan Zi won the Wimbledon doubles title in 2006, but her performance in this year’s singles tournament has mainland media roaring about the new sports star. China Daily gave her front-page coverage and Sina has called her the “Sichuan gem.” At 5’4” (1.65 m), Zheng is considerably shorter than other top players such as Serena Williams (5’9” or 175 m), Ana Ivanovic (6’0” or 1.83 m) and Maria Sharapova (6’2” or 1.88 m). Zheng’s success is sure to create a boon for Chinese tennis, once considered a bourgeois sport to the Communist leadership. For her Wimbledon run, Zheng will take home some $370,000, but she has already said that she will donate her winnings to the earthquake relief effort in Sichuan (though she will also have to contribute some of the prize money to the Chinese Tennis Association.) Fans won’t have to wait long to see her play again. Zheng is expected to compete in both the women’s singles and doubles competitions in the Olympics.