Li Na Husband Jiang Shan, Behind every angry wife, there seems to be a husband determined to either run away or grit his teeth and console her.
Jiang Shan prefers to shrug his droopy shoulders and put up with the antics of his more famous wife Li Na, a successful professional on the WTA Tour and the first Chinese tennis player to win a Grand Slam title.
Li is no pushover on the courts. She is famous for her gritty displays and her ability to chase down every ball that is hit towards any part of her court. She fights hard and will never give up without going for the last shot, or having the last word, which is more often than not, cast towards her husband in times of strife — nine times out of ten, he is not the reason, but simply the sponge who absorbs his wife’s range of emotions.
Jiang soaks it all up, knowing that his wife is no ordinary woman. Compared to her, he is a low-profile man and prefers to bask in the shadow of anonymity. If he hadn’t met Li, then Jiang would have probably ended up on the ATP Tour himself. As fate would have it, however, man proposes and love disposes. The player became a coach and even though he has taught his significant other a thing or two about the game, he has never tried to tamper with her personality or finetune it.
You don’t try and put out the fuse on a stick of dynamite when it’s close to running out. You either run for cover, or sit back, let it explode and wait for the pain to spread all over you.
Abdicating ambitions for love
Jiang knew what he was letting himself in for when he first played with Li in the Hubei provincial team in China. He liked what he saw and couldn’t wait to fall in love and get married — they did, in 2006, two years after he gave up his ambitions as a player and decided to mentor and coach his wife.
It wasn’t a case of ‘fools walk in where angels fear to tread’. Li has, for most part, acknowledged her husband’s significant contribution in her development as a tennis professional on the WTA Tour which explains, in part, that she liked what she saw because deep down, she knew it would be good for her.
So extreme can be the hazards of the job that television footage can testify to Li calling her husband out on court and dumping a mountain of invective and frustration on him for a point that she lost, a rally she failed to close out, or a serve that she could not seem to find. She has told him, in no uncertain terms, to leave the stands, because he was muttering too much advice through a match, or worse still, she has gone on record to tell a TV channel that the advice he can give can be “utter nonsense”.
Jiang, on his part, nods silently, soothes the pain, remembers the date for the anniversary, picks up her kit and clothes, brings her the morning tea, motivates her for the next match, takes care of the travel plans, and books the hotel without ever taking a percentage off her income.
Li is in London. She hoped to win a medal for China but got derailed in the opening round by Daniela Hantuchova. She has opted for a final chance in the doubles instead. There is no telling what might happen should she not be able to accomplish her goals. One thing’s for certain, however, Jiang will be there trying to put out the fuse, or just sitting back to wait for the detonation.
Born: February 26, 1982
Height: 5’ 7
Weight: 65 kg
Turned pro in 1999
Born and raised in Wuhan, China
Won 2011 French Open to become the first Asian in tennis history to win a Grand Slam
Na is coached by her husband Jiang Shan
Na has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Huazhong Institute of Science & ?Technology
Won the 1998 Asian Youth Cup
Role model: Andre Agassi
Is currently the top-ranked Chinese player in the world
Na has won a total of 5 WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) and 19 ITF (International ?Tennis Federation) singles titles