Legendary women’s tennis player, Li Na has bestowed her name upon the inaugural LI NA INSPIRATION AWARD which will be presented to two WTA Future Stars. These awardees embody the spirit of the game both on and off the court, as well as qualities that made Li Na well-loved with fans, players and sponsors throughout her career.
The Li Na Inspiration Award is a manifestation of the larger initiative that the WTA has rolled out this year with its new ‘Power to Inspire’ brand campaign. The new brand concept highlights and promotes the WTA’s fundamental values of athleticism, empowerment and integrity and the introduction of this award is part of a bigger movement to communicate this message.
Throughout the year, players from across Asia-Pacific have been competing on their own Road to Singapore. 36 young stars have now qualified to play in Singapore and stand the chance to play in the WTA Future Stars Finals on Centre Court during the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.
Organized by the WTA in partnership with Sport Singapore and the Singapore Tennis Association, the players will be competing in the Under-14 and Under-16 categories at the Kallang Tennis Centre from Thursday, 22nd Oct., with the finals taking place at Singapore Indoor Stadium Monday, 26th Oct. The Li Na Inspiration Award will be presented during the prize ceremony alongside the winners of the WTA Future Stars tournament. All WTA Future Stars matches are free to the public.
After announcing her retirement in 2014, Li Na stepped into the position as WTA Future Stars Ambassador with ease and will reprise the role this year. An inspirational player to young girls across Asia and around the world during her career, she continues to support, encourage and mentor the next generation of players. The WTA Future Stars is a grassroots initiative that seeks to engage with young players across Asia-Pacific and it is only fitting that the region’s biggest female tennis star meets with its future stars.
“Growing up, tennis was such a major part of my life and it has enabled me to be where I am today. To be able to share my experiences and inspire the next generation to chase their dreams of becoming a tennis player is one of the greatest gifts the sport has given to me. I am so honoured to be part of this initiative and I hope to be able to continue to encourage young players to work hard and do their best.” said Li Na.
WTA Finals Tournament Director and Vice-President for Asia-Pacific, Melissa Pine added, “Li Na is such an inspirational woman for so many young girls. Her determination and endearing personality has made her incredibly popular with all who have met her. She has been a fantastic ambassador for the WTA Future Stars and it makes perfect sense to build on this legacy to introduce the Li Na Inspiration Award. This award highlights and encourages our WTA Future Stars to develop the outstanding qualities that Li Na exudes both on and off the court.
A panel of judges from WTA will assess the girls throughout the tournament and select one player from each age group who embraces the spirit of tennis and Li Na’s inspirational qualities. Led by WTA Future Stars Tournament Director, Donna Kelso, the panel is made up of the WTA Future Stars management team, who will be working and interacting closely with the players throughout their week in Singapore.
As part of the WTA Future Stars tournament, the players will have their own draw ceremony to determine the match-ups within each category. The WTA Future Stars will also get a chance to witness first-hand the WTA Finals Official Draw Ceremony at Marina Bay Sands on 23rd October and the WTA Finals Opening Ceremony on 25th October. Aside from that, the 36 young players will have the opportunity to find out more about what it takes to be a professional player through attending events such as coaching clinic and development seminars. All these will come together to provide a holistic experience for the WTA Future Stars during their visit to Singapore which will hopefully spur them on to continue on their journey in tennis.