The professional tennis world has traditionally been filled by the Europeans and Americans. We thus write this article in celebration of the diversity that is increasingly becoming evident as the days go by.
Given the kinds of contributions made by Li Na to Asian tennis, Li Na is the first to come to our minds when compiling this exclusive list. Her winning of two grand slam titles pales in significance as a fact to her being the first Asian ever reach a grand slam singles final (at the 2011 Australian Open championships), and her being the first Asian to ever win a grand slam singles title (which she did only months later at the 2011 French Open). This is not just a matter of personal triumph - it is historical triumph for the most populous continent on the planet. Apart from that Li Na was also the first Asian player to win a WTA tour title (she did so at the Guangzhou International Women's Open in 2004)!
The second representative of China on this list, Zheng Jie is an overshadowed figure given the achievements attained by her, which include a career-high ranking of 15. What her most significant and path-breaking achievements were however, and those most relevant to the topic of discussion in this blog article, were her being the first Asian woman to have reached the semifinals of a grand slam. That came in the 2008 Wimbledon championships, where she beat then world number one Ana Ivanovic en route to the semis. She was also the first Asian woman to win a grand slam title, although this happened in the doubles realm. She won the doubles championship, along with Yan Zi, at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, both in 2006. The pair went on to win an Olympic bronze for China, fittingly at the 2008 Beijing Olympics ladies' tennis doubles event.
We have a third path-breaker from China in this list, Peng Shuai. She is a formidable singles player, and this is clearly shown by her having attained a career-high ranking of world number 11. Her singles prowess though, is not as significant as her achievements in the doubles realm. The most path-breaking achievement of hers was her being the first Asian person to have achieved a world number one ranking (she did so for doubles in early 2014). On top of that she is also a holder of two grand slam doubles championships - the 2013 Wimbledon championships and the 2014 French Open championships.
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