Li Na was presented with a Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Heart Award at Roland Garros on Friday in recognition of her services during China’s successful Asia/Oceania Zone Group I campaign in February.
Li, who won her maiden Grand Slam title at Roland Garros last year, led China to victory over Chinese Taipei and Uzbekistan in the round-robin stages in Shenzhen, before the host nation defeated Kazakhstan 2-0 to seal a spot in April’s World Group II play-offs.
The world No. 7 won her opening two matches with consummate ease, but Kazakh No. 1 Galina Voskoboeva proved a tougher nut to crack in the play-off. Li eventually prevailed 61 36 61 to clinch the tie for China.
Unfortunately for the Chinese team, Li was unavailable for their trip to Buenos Aires to face Argentina in the World Group II play-offs and her absence proved crucial as the home team recorded a 4-1 triumph.
“I’d like to say thanks to the fans, of course,” said Li, speaking in Paris on Friday. “If they’re not supporting me then I don’t think I can get this award. I wish they can continue supporting Chinese tennis as well.”
Li received her Heart Award bracelet and a cheque for $1,000 - which she will donate to the Mountain Flower Fund, a charity that supports junior tennis players from rural Chinese areas - after the draw was made for the Roland Garros singles events.
The reigning champion, seeded No. 7, will begin her title defence on the Parisian clay against Sorana Cirstea. Li is in the same quarter of the draw as Petra Kvitova, and the same half as Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova.