Li Na honored Pioneer of Breakthrough by home province

08:43, July 06, 2011      

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Chinese tennis star Li Na was honored on Monday by her home province as the "Pioneer of Breakthrough" for her landmark victory in the French Open.

The 29-year-old Li, a native of Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province, became the first Chinese player to win a Grand Slam singles title when she beat Francesca Schiavone at Roland Garros last month.

"Li Na has earned China and Hubei Province great honor by winning the French Open women's singles title, so the provincial government decided to name her the Hubei Pioneer of Breakthrough," the government said in a resolution.

Li, who returned home last week after losing to German wild card Sabine Lisicki in the second round of Wimbledon championships, was also given a cash reward of 600,000 yuan (about 93,603 U.S. dollars).

According to the WTA, Li Na's match against Schiavone was watched by 116 million people in China, making it the most-watched sporting event in the country this year and the most-watched tennis match ever in the country.

The French Open success has propelled Li to one of the biggest sports celebrities in China, on a level with basketball player Yao Ming.

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