Li Na poised to become world's top-earning female athlete

02 August 2011 11:46
By Malcolm Moore, Shanghai

12:46PM BST 02 Aug 2011

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Mrs Li, 29, has only played four tennis matches and won around £25,000 in prize money since her victory at Roland Garros in June.

However, she has signed at least $42 million (£26 million) of sponsorship deals this year with the likes of Mercedes-Benz, Rolex and Haagen Dazs, who believe that she may be the key to the lucrative Chinese market.

Her agent, Max Eisenbud, said it was "hard to set a price" after Mrs Li became the first Chinese to win a grand slam tennis tournament. "We had to change it a lot," he added.

At present, Mrs Li is only out-earned by Maria Sharapova, the glamorous Russian tennis player who she beat in the semi-finals in Paris, but they are likely to swap positions if she can continue to triumph in major tournaments.

For many Chinese, Mrs Li is a maverick. Known as "China's number one sister" since her victory, she has a tattoo, has dyed her hair, and has been known to shout at both her fans and her husband.

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Source: Telegraph