China’s Tennis Icon Li Na Lends Her Name To A Hot New Nike Collection
Over a decade of competition, two-time Grand Slam winner Li Na established herself as a global tennis icon. With a free-spirited style of play, Li is the first Asian to win a Grand Slam title. (Roland Garros in 2011 and Melbourne in 2014.) Today, Li’s influence stretches far beyond the court. Her inner confidence and passionate spirit are inspiring new generations of Chinese athletes — especially young women.
The Muses for the Li Na Collection are footballer Zhao Lina, tennis player Zhang Shuai, swimmer Stephanie Au and models Bonnie Chen and Liya Wang. It is activewear; training gear that is, not necessarily for tennis but for the fit lifestyle.
Nike has released the China-exclusive Li Na Collection, honoring Li’s trailblazing determination and encouraging more girls to follow in her footsteps. It marks the first time that Nike has released an exclusive line for a Chinese woman. The collection is supposedly available now at Nike.com, though a search yielded no results. It’s also to be sold in mainland China stores.
Make no mistake, this is a key strategic marketing move for Nike. Na is the most successful Asian player ever, winning two Slam titles before retiring in September of 2014- one might wonder why the company would invest so much into a player who has left the game. (Note they named their Shanghai building after her, by the way.)
The reason is simple: Nike is making continued inroads into the lucrative Chinese market, where Na can still move the product. She still remains a huge tennis presence there. Remember, Nike made a major concession to Na when they signed her- she’s the only tennis player they’ve sponsored to feature the logo of another brand on her attire. (Mercedes.) They haven’t even done that for Roger Federer.
Tennis has exploded in China. The country now has some 15 million tennis players; 116 million watched Li win the French Open. That kind of exposure is crucial to our sport, and it never would have happened without Li. At tournaments, I’ve seen her charm the crowds. When she smiles, everyone melts. She’s just such a breath of fresh air. Her friendly on-court demeanor as well as her hilariously-witty post-match interviews brings a smile to everyone’s face. -Chris Evert (Wikipedia)
The collection comprises pieces drawn from Nike’s rich Women’s Training and Sportswear styles. Modeled by five rising stars in Chinese sport and culture, it aims to extend Li’s inspiration to all fields of play.
I’ve always been stubborn and disobedient, I’ve never followed the rules. Fortunately, this nature is now appreciated. – Li Na