Li relieved to be out of spotlight

China's Li Na admits she is relieved to be the forgotten woman at Wimbledon this year after an uncomfortable experience in the spotlight following her French Open triumph 12 months ago.

Li became the first Asian to win a Grand Slam when she defeated Francesca Schiavone in the 2011 Roland Garros final, but that historic victory brought her an unwanted level of scrutiny.

When Li arrived at Wimbledon just two weeks after her breakthrough success in Paris, she found her life had changed dramatically.

She had to deal with a flood of requests for interviews and was followed around by groups of Chinese fans fascinated by her success.

The flurry of interest in her life on and off the court proved too much of a distraction and Li crashed out of Wimbledon in the second round against Sabine Lisicki.

Now, a year later, the 30-year-old is back at the All England Club and finding the relative anonymity much more to her liking.

"I'm feeling more free this year," Li said. "Last year I came here after winning in Paris and I just felt like someone was always following me.

"I couldn't do so many things for my private time. So now it is just back to normal.

"If you're always feeling that someone is looking at you, and you have security next to you, you don't feel very comfortable.

"Now I can do much practice as I can. I can concentrate on the court."

Li still recalls with horror how everyone wanted a piece of her following the French Open.

But despite her unhappy experience last year, she still relishes her trips to Wimbledon and is keen to make amends for her early exit.

"I always look forward to Wimbledon. Last year I didn't do well, so I wish I can do much better this year," she said.

"I still remember after the French Open my agent couldn't sleep for two weeks, a month, because the demand was so much.

"You really couldn't always think about what you were doing last year. But time can change everything. I'm back at Wimbledon again and just looking forward to competing this year."

Being back at Wimbledon also means dealing with the inevitable rain delays and more bad weather is forecast for the first week of this year's tournament.

Li is too experienced to let that affect her though.

"Every year is the same. Some days with rain coming we have to wait and then sometimes we have to come to the court straightaway," she said.

"It's not tough. I have been here so many years, so you have to get used to it. For everyone it's the same."

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