Li Na Australian Open
Li NaReuters

Two-time Grand Slam champion Li Na  announced her retirement on Friday due to a long-standing knee problem.

The 32-year-old announced her decision through social media and put an end to various speculations that she is set to retire.

"Walking away from the sport, effective immediately, is the right decision for me and my family," Li Na said.

"It took me several agonising months to finally come to the decision that my chronic injuries will never again let me be the tennis player that I can be."

She most recently won the Australian Open in January, reaching a career-high No. 2 ranking, to add a second Grand Slam title to her kitty. She won her first Major in the 2011 French Open and became the first player from Asia to win a Grand Slam.

Li Na has not played any tennis tournament since a third round loss at Wimbledon in July. She also withdrew from the US Open in August owing to her chronic knee injury.

She wrote a letter mentioning her decision to hang up the racquet and also expressed how difficult it was to take such decision.

"The task of finally making a decision to hang up my racquet felt a lot more difficult than winning seven matches in a row in the Australian heat," she wrote in the letter.

The reigning Australian Open champion had three surgeries on her right knee from 2008 to 2009. Li Na underwent a fourth surgery on her left knee in July after she lost at Wimbledon.

"While I've come back from surgery in the past, this time it felt different. As hard as I tried to get back to being 100 percent, my body kept telling me that, at 32, I will not be able to compete at the top level ever again," she wrote.

"After four knee surgeries and hundreds of shots injected into my knee weekly to alleviate swelling and pain, my body is begging me to stop the pounding."

The WTA's chief executive, Stacey Allaster, paid tribute to Li Na. Allster believes that the veteran will be a shining example for Chinese girls to take up the sport.

"Without question I believe that Li Na is the player of this decade who will have the most impact on the growth of women's tennis," Allaster said.

"In addition to her amazing tennis abilities and her warm and humorous personality, she is a pioneer who opened doors to tennis for hundreds of millions of people throughout China and Asia.

"Her legacy is immense and I have no doubt that her contributions to the WTA will be seen for decades to come."

Li Na is placed second after Maria Sharapova in the Forbes list of highest-paid female athletes this year. Her annual earnings accounted to $23.6 million.

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