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Mesh Tennis » Blog Archive » Tennis stirs more controversy in Beijing

Tennis stirs more controversy in Beijing

Na Li (or Li Na, depending on which naming convention you prefer) appears to be another Olympics casualty - a portion of the fans in China are apparently not only unhappy with her inability to pull in a singles medal, but with her on-court attitude:

When a frustrated Li Na, the Chinese tennis star, shouted “Shut up!” in English at a cheering Chinese audience during a women’s singles semifinal match on Saturday, the country’s cyber-savvy chatterers were quick to denounce her words as a slap in the face to the nation’s collective pride.
The yell came as Li lost a critical set point shortly before losing the match to Russia’s Dinara Safina 6-7 (3), 5-7, ending China’s hope to win a silver or gold medal in singles tennis play. The incident, now dubbed as “Shut-up Gate” in online chat rooms, provoked wide accusations of Li trying to distance herself from her Chinese identity.
“Can’t she just speak Chinese? She thinks she’s so Westernized just because she plays a bourgeois sport,” is typical of the barbs bouncing around cyberspace in the last few days.
Although Li has admitted that the shout came from her frustration over losing control of the game, some angry netizens remained skeptical and skewered her for failing to accept the audience’s good will.
“You can’t expect everyone to understand the rules of watching a tennis game,” one sports blogger wrote. “What we can do as Chinese is to cheer as much as we can whenever we see our players competing. What’s wrong with that?”
But in my opinion, there was nothing wrong on Li’s part either. It’s only too common for players to let out emotions on a tennis court, and “shut up” is as normal as any other expression used on such occasions. nytimes

I’d be pretty edgy too, especially after watching Safina play one of the WTA’s notoriously terrible servers (Elena Dementieva) and completely falling apart to throw in 17 double faults herself in the final. Russia took home all three medals in women’s singles (Dementieva, Safina, Zvonereva). If you missed the gold medal match on tv/online, don’t bother checking it out - better tennis could have been seen nearly anywhere else.

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