Zheng Jie says that a Chinese woman is capable of winning Wimbledon and adds that the Chinese Tennis Federation's decision not to be so controlling of its players proved critical to their development.
Before Li Na won 2011 Roland Garros, Zheng was the first Chinese player to reach the semifinals of a major when she advanced to the final four of Wimbledon in 2008.
"Why not?" Zheng said when asked by the Birmingham Post whether a Chinese woman could win Wimbledon. "Two years ago you would never say a Chinese girl could win a Grand Slam. I am not sure it will happen this year but one day."
The Chinese Federation decided after the 2008 Beijing Olympics to grant its players more control over their careers, and the result has been a significant improvement in singles for Li, Zheng and Peng Shuai. Li and Zheng both reached the semifinals of the 2010 Australian Open and Peng is now ranked a career high No. 20.
"Before we always practiced with the federation but after 2008 it gave us more control," Zheng said. "We can choose the coach and different sponsors and this change is very good for us, sometimes the federation controlled the coach and maybe you didn’t like the coach. In China there is no other sport like this – it’s a big change. I am so thankful for this mini-truce."