In a year in which the world’s finest tennis players are being honoured in the strangest ways possible for their talents and successes, the top Chinese player Li Na has outdone them all with a stadium being built in her honour. Or has she?
The Qianjian Evening News reported this week that the tennis star would receive this enormous honour from her home province of Hubei, where plans have been put into place to build a new sports stadium named after her. However, Li Liren, the Director for the tennis arm of the Hubei Administration of Sport, has denied this claim via an interview with China Daily – “We had planned to build new stadiums and venues as early as 2006…But we had never planned to build a stadium under a local icon like Li Na.”
To add further confusion to the stadium saga, it was reported that the National Reform and Development Commission had approved 330 million Yuan for construction of the stadium, which an early leaked report from the Hubei Administration of Sport revealed would be called the ‘Li Na Comprehensive Stadium’. An official from the organisation was even quoted as saying that “we hope Li Na’s fame can help promote the sports economy in Hubei province.”
Whether or not the stadium will be named after the current women’s world number 4 player, plans are definitely in place to develop a potentially world class sports venue in this central Chinese province. Although plans and designs are yet to be finalised, the early report claims that it will be completed within two years with a capacity to hold up to 8,000 spectators. With its capital city – Wuhan – acting as a host venue in July for an ATP World Tennis Tour event, it seems that China certainly has its eye on bidding for more famous tennis events in the future.