BEIJING, July 3 (Xinhua) -- China's only Grand Slam winner Li Na had her Wimbledon run cut short on Thursday night while a debate on Li's way of handling her manners still lingers on.
Li leveled her previous best at All England Club in 2006, and 2010 but failed to go farther when losing 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 6-2 to fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland in the quarter-finals.
Li reconciled herself with the loss.
"It was pretty good, really. At least better than the last two years. And also I proved a new thing, proved so many things on the court," said Li Na.
"I'm proud of myself, because at least I was trying to come to the net. I can now use it in important matches. So it's pretty positive," she said, satisfied with her new style that saw her come to the net 71 times and win points 48 times.
The feisty player kept her temper in check and rarely shouted on court. While meeting reporters, Li didn't lose her cool as she did on Monday when China's most famous athlete blasted at a Chinese reporter who had asked an "unpleasant" question.
"How surprising he sat there. How dare he? Doesn't he have any shame?" the 31-year-old said.
The reporter asked Li "whether she wants to say something to Chinese fans who stayed up watching her game" after Li defeated Cezch Republic's Klara Zakopalova 4-6, 6-0, 8-6 in the third round.
It is the same question that had provoked Li's anger after the former French Open champion was dumped out the Roland Carlos tournament in the second round last month.
"Do I need to explain?" Li then returned in Chinese.
"It's strange. I lost a game and that's it. Do I need to get on my knees and kowtow to them? Apologize to them?" said the player from the central Chinese city of Wuhan.
Her remarks, either from the French Open or Wimbledon, sparked debates among Chinese public.
"Meifulin", a netizen on Sina Weibo, China's Twitter-like website, said: "Reporting is that reporter's job just as playing tennis is your job. How can Li say those graceless words? (What she said is) Too disappointing. If she doesn't change her attitude, Li may face some bigger challenges and troubles in the future."
"Miaomiaojia", one of Li's 21.6 million followers on Sina Weibo, commented: "I'm a little disappointed at Li. What that reporter asked is not a tough or insulting question. As a 32 year old adult, Li should behave more mature and show more respect to others."
Another weibo user "Xidanluotuo" said: "Losing the game triggered Li's outrage, which is a sign of lacking professionalism."
Netizens even compare Li Na with Yao Ming or Roger Federer, who are considered to be good at dealing with media and graceful with defeat.
On the other hand, many fans chose to stand firm with their idol.
Wang Feng, a sports fan in east China's Jiangsu Province, said: "In my opinion, Li didn't say those words on purpose. She's just that kind of person, candid and straightforward, which I appreciate a lot."
Public opinions have polarized as Li's erratic temper sometimes led to controversies even before she became the top Chinese sport star with 2001 French Open title.
In 2008 Beijing Olympics, Li shouted "Shut up!" in English at a cheering Chinese spectator during a women's singles semifinal match and provoke huge criticism.
Some people believed Li's character helps her become China's top star, while some thought making changes would bring Li more.
Her coach Carlos Rodriguez said on Tuesday Li Na did not mean to say those words, but he hoped Li could be friendlier to public and control her temper, "If Li wants to make bigger success , the support of media and fans is necessary and important."