Li Na is expected to announce her retirement from tennis on Friday, according to reports in her home country in China, ending a professional career that has spanned 15 years.
The two-time Grand Slam winner recently missed the US Open with a knee injury, having also withdrawn from tournaments in Montreal and Cincinnati, and Chinese state broadcaster CCTV News have claimed that she will not be making a return to tennis.
CCTV explained on their micro-blogging site: “According to insiders who broke the news, Li Na, who won two women’s tennis grand slams, will officially announce her retirement publicly tomorrow.”
The 32-year-old became the first Asian to win a Grand Slam when she triumphed at the French Open in 2011, beating Italy’s Francesca Schiavone in the final, and she has won nine WTA singles titles.
Her final year?
This year would be a fitting one for the world number six to bow out, as she won her second Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January, where she defeated Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova in the final, helping her reach her highest ever world ranking of second in the process.
Li has not been able to match that level of form since then, as despite reaching the final in Miami in March, she was then knocked out in the first round of the French Open by Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic in May.
Her last match was a third round defeat to the unseeded Barbora Zahlavova Strycova at Wimbledon in June, after which she parted company with Argentine coach Carlos Rodriguez, who she had worked with for two years.
The same knee injury forced Li to miss a part of the clay court season this year, and murmurs of her retirement surfaced during Wimbledon, where she admitted that she was taking time to think about her future.
Despite her break from competitive action, Li is still listed to take part in the Wuhan Open in China next week, and she is also scheduled to play in the China Open in Beijing.
Li is currently in line to qualify for the WTA Tour Championships in Singapore in October, meaning that is she were to announce her retirement, then a player finishing in ninth place in the WTA rankings could be set to take her position in the tournament.
Her success has seen her generate a high amount of wealth, as she was listed by Forbes as the second highest earning female athlete in the world behind fellow tennis professional Maria Sharapova, as she earned approximately £14.5million for the 12 months up to June 2014.