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Chinese Revolution

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Not sure if you heard it as it was well after midnight on Saturday?  Perhaps not. After it was late and yes, not a single Australian was involved which tends to diminish the desire of even the most ardent of sports fans.  It was the sound of the axis of the sport of tennis creaking and tilting far eastwards.  In case you didn’t see it Chinese athlete Li Na won her first Grand Slam title in beating Francesca Schiavone in straight sets to win the French Open.  It was a first for China in singles although three doubles pairs have taken major titles.  If only the tiniest fraction of the total population of 1.3 billion pick up a racket as a result we will see many more follow in Na’s endearing and engaging footsteps. It also brought stark comparison to Australia’s tennis stocks. A proud record essentially counts for nothing as we struggle with the globalisation of this particular sport and others as well. Australia has won more than its fair share of Davis Cups and seen players both male and female routinely ranked in the top ten and winning grand slam events. All stakeholders of Australian tennis, from the fanatical supporters travelling the world to expectant parents hoping to steer their charge to a lucrative career and from corporate sponsors to the administrators at the pinnacle of the game must appreciate that the landscape has changed and will never be the same again.  Many countries where tennis wasn’t exactly mainstream have developed prodigiously talented athletes that, at the moment rank better than ours. Russia and Eastern Europe was far from a hotbed of wristy backhands and sweet lobs twenty five years ago? China has been knocking at the door for a while – two of the semi finalists in the women’s singles at the 2010 Australian Open came from there. With an unlimited and largely untapped supply of talent, a hugely supportive State system and a charming role model in Li Na I am certain we are seeing the start of an altogether different Revolution!

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