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James Reynolds | 03:58 UK time, Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Zheng JieThere's a new Chinese sports star to look out for: Zheng Jie.

If you've been watching Wimbledon you'll know that Zheng knocked out the top seed Ana Ivanovic in the first week of play.

It's not a bad achievement for someone who's ranked 133 in the world.

China doesn't us give huge amounts of access to its athletes - but Zheng Jie was on an athletes' panel at a press conference I went to in April at a sports academy in Beijing.

She sat rather shyly on the right of the stage. An official in the middle did most of the talking.

But Zheng Jie did get to talk for a bit.

Why she took up tennis: "When I was a kid, I was very naughty and active. My parents wanted to find a sport that I could take up to keep fit. One of my cousins played tennis at the time. She took me to the tennis court. I loved the sport from the very beginning."

Interests: "My hobbies are listening to music and reading." (Each of the athletes on the panel was asked this question - each had a suitably low-key, non-energy-sapping interest.)

Tennis isn't (yet) a big sport in China - this country focuses on other sports such as ping pong, basketball, badminton, gymnastics, and diving.

But now that might change. Zheng Jie is through to the Wimbledon semis - the first Chinese player ever to reach this stage of a Grand Slam.

Her quarter-final match was broadcast live on state TV (watched by many millions late into the night here). Huge excitement in her home province Sichuan - which is still recovering from the earthquake in May.


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