(2 September, 2020 – Hong Kong) Hong Kong’s perennial No. 1 from 2007-2018, Zhang Ling will now close the curtain on a 16-year playing career after announcing her retirement from competitive tennis. She first arrived on these shores to embark on life as a full-time athlete at age 15 and she would go on to attain a career-high WTA ranking of No. 184 in singles and No. 219 in doubles.
“Growing up, I always wanted to become a tennis player, give it my best, and let the game take me as far as I can go. On my journey, I experienced many highs and lows, but I’ve also had great teammates and support from the fans. As I look back now, I have real appreciation to have gotten the opportunity to live out my dream. It has been an absolute blessing and privilege.”
In all, Zhang Ling captured 14 singles and 7 doubles titles on the women’s pro circuit. She was a 3-time representative for Hong Kong at both the All China Games and Asian Games. She was one victory away from becoming the first player since Tsui Yuen Yuen to medal in tennis at the Asian Games when she reached the singles quarterfinals twice in 2014 and 2018, as well as the last eight of the mixed doubles in 2018.
One of the high points in Zhang Ling’s career occurred in 2013 when she beat Chinese Taipei’s No. 2 seed Chan Chin-Wei in the women’s singles quarterfinals en route to a silver medal at the Asian Championships. This result ultimately secured a return to Tier A sports status with the Hong Kong Sports Institute after an absence of 5 years and enabled tennis to once again receive a level of support from SI that included funding for elite training programmes.
HKTA President, Philip Mok, remarked, “Zhang Ling will go into the books as one of the all time best Hong Kong tennis players. I had the pleasure of watching her compete on many occasions, the most memorable of which were the 2018 Asian Games in Palembang and 2013 Asian Championships in Bangkok. Lynn was an exemplary athlete, always carrying herself with professionalism and grace on and off the court. I hope she will stay involved with the game and provide inspiration for the next generations.”
“The resources and financial support derived from her fruits of labour have since significantly enhanced the growth of our high performance programmes that brought us some very outstanding results,” said HKTA Chief Executive Officer, Chris Lai.
In her career, Zhang Ling has beaten the likes of Eugenie Bouchard, Wang Qiang, Zhang Shuai, Monica Puig, Kristyna Pliskova, and Zarina Diyas when the Kazakh native was ranked No. 40 in the world.
As a junior in 2007, she began the year with a bang by eliminating No. 2 seed Latisha Chan to reach the last sixteen of the Australian Open girls’ singles. Over a fortnight in late March, he captured back-to-back Grade 1 titles in Asia that would later catapult her to a career-best ITF ranking of No. 16 in the world.
She won her first pro circuit tournament at the US$10,000 Wellington in March 2007. The following month, she made her Fed Cup debut and thoroughly outplayed Akgul Amanmuradova to help Hong Kong defeat Uzbekistan in Group I. This Fed Cup victory is all the more impressive when considering that Amanmuradova, together with former world No. 16 Iroda Tulyaganova, had just beaten Zheng Jie and Li Na respectively in singles to knock China out of the medal rounds four months earlier at the Asian Games 2006 in Doha.
Zhang Ling went on to become Hong Kong’s all-time Fed Cup statistical leader in Most Total Wins(37), Most Singles Wins(28), Most Doubles Wins(9), Most Ties Played(44), and Most Years Played(11). In 2018, she was a recipient of the Fed Cup Commitment Award.
HKTA’s Player Development Committee Chairman, Dr. Derek Ling, commented, “One of the most dedicated professional tennis players whose contribution to Hong Kong tennis will be remembered for generations to come. I am proud to have served in Hong Kong contingents at the Asian Games and All China Games with her as a team member.”
“Thanks for all that you’ve done for Hong Kong, Lynn! It was a pleasure to play alongside you. Happy retirement and enjoy your time ahead!” said former Hong Kong representative, Katherine Ip, who partnered Zhang Ling to capture a bronze medal in women’s doubles at the Asian Championships in Bangkok in 2013.
At the 2009 Guangzhou International Series event, she beat Zhang Shuai to qualify for her first WTA Tour level event. In 2011, she was ominously close to making the maindraw of the US Open but an in-form British southpaw Laura Robson upended her progress in the final round of the women’s qualifying. In 2017, she saw off former Stanford No. 1 and NCAA runner-up, Carol Zhao, at the $25,000 Tsukuba to lift her final piece of silverware on the pro circuit.
“I had to overcome some injuries along the way but after everything that’s said and done, I think I’ve also been lucky in many respects to have played as long as I did,” reflected Zhang Ling. “I want to thank TA and SI for believing in me and I thank all the coaches and training staff who have helped me in my career. I will treasure all the relationships that were built through this sport.”
“While this chapter of my life closes, in time, I look forward to continuing my involvement with tennis in some fashion, giving back and helping young players to achieve their goals and dreams. Although I bid farewell to tennis as a player, I will never say goodbye to the game that I love. Thanks again to all of you!”