Li adjusting to being top seed, but husband draws more attention
Li Na is still getting used to the attention that comes with being the top seed at a big tournament for the first time. After winning the Australian Open, Li is now ranked a career-high No. 2 and is the top seed at Indian Wells in Serena Williams' absence.
"I try to feeling the same, but it is different, you know," she said after reaching the fourth round. "Before if I come to tournament maybe I was like No. 6 or No. 7 seed.
"Now is high attention, everyone is focused [more on me]."
Despite the extra pressure, Li has recorded straightforward victories in her first two contests. She's relieved not to have gone out of the tournament early.
"[It's] always tough, because first time to be the top seed in a big tournament and never have experience before," said Li. "So it's very tough to hang in there, especially beginning [of] the tournament."
While Li is even more famous in her homeland of China, she says that even after her Australian Open victory, her husband remains more recognizable than her.
"If I go alone, it's no problem. The people always [say], She looks like [Li], but not sure," said Li. "But if I was go with my husband, for sure, 150 times. And they say, 'Oh, this is Li Na's husband, and they say, 'Oh, this is Li Na.'"
She related one particularly memorable occasion involving a flight attendant who recognized her husband first.
"It was like three years ago, also after Melbourne," said Li. "He help me put bag on top, and suddenly the lady [who] was serve for us [said], 'Look, look, this is Li Na's husband.' And I was like, 'Yeah, so many people say that.'
"So after 10 minutes... the lady came again. 'Oh, sorry, I didn't know you were Li Na.'"
As a result, Li knows what to do when she wants to stay unnoticed. "Now so many times I talk to husband, I say, 'Don't come with me. You go in first or you going behind. Don't come with me,'" she said.