BEIJING, Sept. 19 (Xinhua) -- The Hangzhou Asian Games will be the focus for Zheng Qinwen over the next three weeks. The 20-year-old participated in the torch relay as the second torchbearer on Tuesday and is set to compete starting Sunday at her first Asian Games.
"I choose to play because I can compete for my country," the rising star of China's tennis told Xinhua. This marks her first time playing at home in front of a home crowd since turning professional.
She advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2023 US Open after defeating last year's runner-up Ons Jabeur, marking a significant breakthrough by reaching the final eight of a Grand Slam event for the first time. This performance earned her the nickname "Queen Wen."
"I love it, it sounds powerful, rhymes with my name and really suits me," she laughed.
The 2023 US Open was notable for Chinese tennis, as all seven singles participants from the Chinese mainland advanced to the second round. According to Zheng, this was no accident.
"It's natural, as Chinese players have been devoted themselves to professional tennis for over 20 years, we support and inspire each other, as a result, we are able to practice harder in the training and pull through on the court," she said.
Li Na, in the history of China's professional tennis, is a standout figure. She serves as an inspiration, especially for women's singles players.
"As I see it, Li Na sows the seeds of tennis into the hearts of children, she is the first Grand Slam singles champion from Asia, winning titles at both the French Open and the Australian Open, which made her achievements even more remarkable. Her career inspired young players like me to be as good and tough as her. I never had the privilege to talk with her before, hopefully I can have the chance to learn from her in the future."
Zheng, hailing from the same province as Li Na, carries high expectations, not just for her performance but also for her regional ties to Hubei, known for its lakes and cuisine.
"Tennis is a sport of one on one, it requires perfect individual performance, I don't eat hot, fried food during tournaments as it will immediately affect my game on the court," said Zheng.
The Hangzhou Asian Games' closing ceremony coincides with Zheng Qinwen's 21st birthday on October 8. The road ahead is promising.
"I have thought of that, but I need to take one step at a time, I'll focus on the Asian Games, try my best in Hangzhou," said Zheng when asked about a potential Golden Slam in her career. "I need to keep my eyes on the sky and keep my feet on the ground,"
"To be someone like Li Na is too early for me, but I do hope to be an inspiration for the younger generation in the future. There are a lot to be improved, my return, my first serve, my mentality, every game is different, but I have the confidence to do whatever makes me better," she said. ■