Like a lot of other sports, tennis has risen in China quickly due to greater funding for it over the past years. This year, with $4.5 million in prize money, the Beijing China Open is now for the first time a mandatory, top-level WTA Tour stop. But the sport is also getting boosts from entertainment stars who are helping to push it into the mainstream consciousness. The China Open is in its final rounds, and Jane Zhang and Yang Kun recorded a song for it some time ago.
(This was before Universal started making her look trashy…go back to Hua Yi Jane, not the let’s-remake-songs company!)
One of the biggest surprises in the China Open was 23-year old Peng Shuai who in two huge upsets, beat former world no. 1s Jelena Jankovic and Maria Sharapova to advance to the quarterfinals. A former coach of her’s was Chinese American Grand Slam winner Michael Chang, who has opened his own Tennis Academy in China to cultivate the sport amongst young Chinese. He even took that desire to see the sport grow into guest-starring in the second season of the Chinese version of Prince of Tennis.
Unfortunately the men’s side, who started off strong in China’s emergence on the tennis scene, have not made a huge impact recently and it’s been dominated mostly by the women. And that takes away half of the fun, so I’ll have to do with the very hot Chinese badminton team for now, which is not a bad thing. I’m segueing into them, because I don’t have time like I wanted to, to post on their appearance on Tian Tian Xiang Shang.
For more on China’s rising interest into the sport and push to make China a force on the tennis scene, here’s a USA today article. It says the Chinese Tennis Association reports 130 million “interested” in the sport, while 5 million actively play.