I'd agree. A very engaging personality. And, has developed into a great player.
But, it's not that surprising that she didn't become a bigger star outside of China, at least until now. First, for a long time, she was just a run-of-the-mill good, but not great, player. She had some good results (her first Slam QF was back in 2006), but she wasn't a serious contender for Slams, or even bigger tournaments in general. She took three years off and went back to school after her initial try at pro tennis, and didn't become a full-time pro again until 2005 when she was 23. And, as stated, her results were good, and she had a few matches which suggested she could be even better (I remember her really scaring Clijsters one year at the AO (this was prior to 2011 when she lost to Clijsters in the final)), but for the most part the didn't do anything to really call attention to herself.
For a 30-year old, she hasn't even been around that long. I was surprised that she has played "only" 6 times at Wimbledon and the FO.
I think the Li Na that we all know and love started to take shape when she made the QF at the 2009 USO, and then followed that up with 2010 AO SF and 2010 Wimbledon QF. Then of course, she made the 2011 AO final, and improbably won the 2011 FO to become a household name amongst tennis fans. But, even then she kind of went away for while for the latter part of 2011 and 2012. Not surprising, because we all know her game can be inconsistent.
I think Rodriguez has really helped develop her game at an advanced tennis age and made her a more consistent overall (I love that she's moving forward more). Of course, given her game, she's still subject to wild mood swings in her tennis, and I'm never really that surprised when she does paricularly well or suffers a bad loss.
But, I think she has kicked it up a gear in 2013 and is playing smarter overall, and I believe that she'll be (for her) more consistent overall this season. That great play combined with her hilarious, sunny personality is a joy to watch.
Last edited by bluetrain4; 01-22-2013 at 10:24 AM.