LONDON - Who can a woman turn to when everything falls apart? Her mother, of course - even if, in Li Na's case, it necessitated a 12-hour flight from Paris to China after her early exit from the French Open.
Wimbledon might not be her most successful tournament but Li says she is feeling "totally relaxed" ahead of next week's grasscourt Grand Slam, thanks to the flying visit home.
"I had one week off, I was feeling in need of having time to myself to relax. I couldn't stress all the time, so I went back to China to see my mum and to see friends," the world number six told Reuters in an interview.
"I really was feeling I had to go back inside myself," added Li, who would not normally return to Wuhan until after Wimbledon. "I really wanted to go back to see my mum.
"When I unlocked the door my mum was like: 'What are you doing here?' So I said: 'Mum, I just wanted to see you, say hi, have dinner, blah blah..."
Li Na of China reacts during her women's singles tennis match against Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, in London, June 29, 2013. [Photo/Agencies]
Li left Paris berating herself for losing in the second round to American Bethanie Mattek-Sands at a tournament where she became Asia's first Grand-Slam champion in 2011.
The defeat included a seven-game losing streak, and Li departed Roland Garros vowing to "talk to myself and my team to see what happened".
So what did happen? The 31-year-old shrugged as she stood in Eastbourne's sunshine.
"I was giving her the chance to play well," she said, clearly having moved on from the Paris heartbreak.
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