BEIJING: Chinese netizens hailed Peng Shuai as the “pride” of the country after a heat-related illness ended her US Open dream, with fans extolling her journey from childhood heart surgery to Grand Slam semi-final.
Social media users in China said Peng’s collapse against Caroline Wozniacki on Friday brought back memories of compatriot Li Na’s defeat in the 2013 Australian Open final when she smashed her head on the floor.
Peng, 28, was seeking to follow Li and become only the second Chinese player to reach a Grand Slam final. However, the bid finished with her being taken from the court in agony, in tears, and in a wheelchair.
Peng was trailing Denmark’s Wozniacki 7-6 (7/1) 4-3 when she needed to leave the Arthur Ashe Stadium to seek treatment — believed then to be for cramping — and play was held up for 10 minutes.
She returned, played a few points but then collapsed to the ground before being escorted away by medical staff and officials.
Peng’s withdrawal was one of the most discussed topics on Sina Weibo, a Chinese microblogging service similar to Twitter, generating more than 40 million comments, including reposts.
“Hang in there, Shuaishuai,” read one post, referring to the star affectionately by repeating her name twice.”
You are the pride of the Chinese people! “Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily praised Peng in a comment on its Sina Weibo account, saying “there is no loser today… thank you, Shuaishuai, you tried your best!”