Thu, Jun 25, 2009 - Page 20 News List

China’s Li braced for battle of tattoos


China’s Li Na is facing a battle of the tattoos in the second round at Wimbledon, but said if she had her way, her controversial body art would be wiped off.

The No. 19 seed has a design etched on her chest — something that was not well received in her homeland, where tattoos have long been considered taboo.

She faces Belarusian world No. 82 Olga Govortsova, who has three stars tattooed on her inner left forearm, in her quest for a third round spot at Wimbledon.

However, though tattoos are growing in acceptance in China and Li has finally become comfortable showing it off on the tennis court, she said might get tired of seeing it.

“So many people ask me about my tattoo,” Li told reporters. “It’s a rose with a heart. I’ve had it eight years now. Before, I always wore tape, I didn’t want to show the tattoo. In China, if they see people have a tattoo, they only think maybe she’s not so good a person.”

But after her sportswear manufacturer said they had no problem with her revealing it, she decided to take the plunge and be positive about showing it off.

“But the next day after I showed it for the first time, in China, they said I have a tattoo of a snake!” the 27-year-old said. “I want to take it off because maybe after a long time seeing it you get tired. But it’s not really easy to take off.”

She added: “Also, my husband, he doesn’t like it. I said I have tattoo and he said, ‘No, don’t make a joke.’ For one day, he didn’t talk to me.”

Li made the Wimbledon quarter-finals in 2006 and feels she is running out of chances to top her best-ever Grand Slam performance.

The right-hander feels this year could be her best shot at going all the way in a major.

“I got to the quarter-final already so I want to get to the semi-final or final. I want to do better than before,” she said. “I know I’m not like a young girl who has more chance to play many years. Right now if I lose this time, I lose a chance.”

Li eased into the second round with a 7-6, (7/5), 6-0 victory over Kazakhstan’s Galina Voskoboeva on Tuesday.

She was taken to a tie break in the first set but her opponent, No. 89 in the world, crumbled in the second to lose in an hour and 14 minutes on Court 6.

Li beat her next opponent Govortsova in the French Open third round this year, but will not be looking any further in the Wimbledon draw to see who else stands in her way.

“I don’t want to see how the draw is going, just play the first round, second round and then see how far I can go on,” she said.

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