Australian Open 2014 Women's Final: Li Na's Triumph Great Moment for Sport

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistJanuary 25, 2014

Li Na of China speaks after defeating Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia, right,  in their women's singles final at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
Aaron Favila/Associated Press

Finally, Li Na got her Australian Open title. And afterwards, she got quite a few laughs as well. 

After fighting and scraping to win a first-set tiebreaker, Na completely dominated the second set, defeating Dominika Cibulkova 7-6 (7-3), 6-0. But it was her post-match interview that may end up being the definitive moment from this year's tournament (well, outside of the build-up for that Rafael Nadal versus Roger Federer semifinal that was kind of a big deal).

If you haven't seen it, enjoy:

This was Na's third trip to an Australian Open final, so she'll be relieved to have that monkey off her back. But it's also her second Grand Slam title (she won the 2011 French Open) putting her in the company of players like Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova in the tier of top women's players behind Serena Williams.

Having a strong second tier behind Williams is important. The men's game is so vibrant right now because Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray are all in their primes together, while Federer is still talented enough to compete at the top level, and David Ferrer remains a pesky threat for the big guns.

While Na probably isn't about to take the women's game by storm—she's 31, after all—she's reached at least the quarterfinals in four of her five last tournaments, the semifinals in three and two straight Australian Open finals. 

Rick Rycroft/Associated Press

She's certainly a player to be reckoned with. And considering that Williams had won four of the last six women's Grand Slams, tennis needed another player to rise up and challenge for the throne outside of Azarenka.

For the moment, Na has provided that challenge.

But we're always going to remember that victory speech when we recall this event. Na managed to be thankful, witty, gracious and honest in one fell swoop, providing a bit of life to a tradition that is often a bit more, shall we say, rehearsed. 

Even gold-medal winners like Stephanie Rice were having a laugh with Na:

When it was all over, her level of dominance was incredibly impressive (she lost just one set in the entire tournament). But after wowing the crowd and owning the field, the somewhat surprising champion left Australia with a laugh.

And who can't appreciate that?


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