Chinese table tennis legend Zhang Yining announced her retirement in Beijing Thursday afternoon as she left for the United States to further her studies, sports.qq.com reported.
The ace paddler confirmed she quit from the table before she boarded the plane at Beijing airport, saying that she would focus on her major in Physical Education during the one-year's study in the US.
"I made the decision (to retire) after careful consideration and I wish to give young players more opportunity," said Zhang during the brief interview.
With four Olympic gold medals, nine World Championships and four World Cup wins, Zhang was considered one of the greatest female players in the history of the sport.
Due to Zhang quitting, she will miss the 2012 London Olympic Games, raising the question of who can step in as her successor.
Guo Yue, Guo Yan, Li Xiaoxia Liu Shiwen and Ding Ning are all potential player that may take the lead in the Chinese women's table tennis team, but none match the achievements of Zhang Yining.
Guo, 23, was once regarded as China's best female player after Zhang, but she had been in depression since the Moscow World Championships. She just lost to her teammate Mu Zi in early March at a trial event crucial to qualify for the 2011 Rotterdam World Championship.
Top World Title Winner with
19 World Tournament Titles
1997：Made herself known nationwide by beating top national and world champion players in team games at the Eighth National Games.
2000: Runner-up of the women's singles at the 45th World Table Tennis Championships, but skips the Sydney Olympics qualification games.
2001: Champion of the women's singles at the Table Tennis World Cup and the Ninth National Games team game.
2002: Champion of the women's singles at the Busan Asian Games after beating then-leading player of the country Wang Nan.
2004: Champion of the women's singles and doubles at the Athens Olympics, becoming the third player in the nation to win both the singles and doubles title at one Olympics following Deng Yaping and Wang Nan.
2005: Completed her career grand slam by having single and doubles titles at major world tournaments, namely, the Table Tennis World Cup, the World Championships and the Olympics.
2008: Defended her Olympic single and doubles titles at the Beijing Olympics, becoming the top multi-gold table tennis player in Olympic history.
2009: Married businessman Xu Wei and faded from the public spotlight afterward.
|Who's the Next Queen after Zhang?|
Li Xiaoxia, 23
Guo Yan, 28
Ding Ning: 21