MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Retired two-time Grand Slam champion Li Na was always known for her timing on court at the Australian Open, whether it was a cleanly struck passing shot or a deadpanned wisecrack at the expense of her husband, Jiang Shan.
Returning to Melbourne Park for the first time since hoisting the championship trophy last year, the Chinese star made yet another popular delivery at Rod Laver Arena on Monday, announcing to the crowd that she and her husband — who also goes by the name Dennis — are expecting their first child.
"I'm not sure I can trust everyone or not," she playfully told the crowd before letting everyone in on her secret. "Me and Dennis, we are so excited our first child will be out in the summer. Dennis is doing good job — he just makes one ace."
Li later posted a message on Facebook saying she chose to make the big announcement at Rod Laver Arena because of the special connection she felt with the Australian crowd during her two runner-up finishes at Melbourne Park in 2011 and 2013 and her title run last year.
"I was no longer alone out there fighting my opponent (and sometimes myself); today it felt like I was in the company of my 15,000 friends," she wrote. "And it really feels like this baby is going to enter the world already having about 15,000 friends."
After becoming the first Asian player to win a major at the 2011 French Open and then capturing her second Grand Slam last year, Li decided to walk away from the game in September due to recurring knee injuries.
Li has kept busy since her retirement — she has been traveling with her husband and making plans to open her own tennis academy in China.
And now she has a big arrival on the way.
"We can't wait to become parents and start this new chapter together," she wrote.