China's Peng Shuai claimed victory in the Jiangxi Open here on Sunday, her second WTA singles title. The win lifted her to No. 23 in the world WTA rankings and to No.1 in Asia.
Peng claimed the Jiangxi Open title in 2014 for the first time when it was still one of the WTA 125K Series. In 2015, she withdrew from the French Open because of a back injury which sidelined her for the rest of the year.
Peng, a symbol of Chinese women's tennis since fellow countrywoman Li Na retired with two Grand Slam titles, didn't show a satisfying comeback performance in 2016's WTA and ITF events until the Tianjin Open, which saw Peng bag her maiden WTA singles crown. She made it two on Sunday.
"Those experience make you cry, make your heart broken and you will be confused and full of agony, but one day when you can smile with relief and tell it, then you are grown," she said after a 2-0 victory in Nanchang, defeating the unseeded Japanese Nao Hibino in 86 minutes.
Starting her tennis journey at eight years old, she has kept at it for more than 20 years. So, when she found out about her serious back injury and needed a surgery with a 50 percent success rate, she decided to take the chance.
"This surgery means I have the possibility to continue playing tennis for three or four more years, and even though I may hurt again, I will never regret it," she said.
Peng's experience even encouraged one of her fans who has leukemia. The fan came to Peng at the 2016 Elite Trophy in Zhuhai. "My fans think my comeback inspires them, but I should say they also motivate me so much and strengthen my beliefs," she said.
"I hope I will stay on until 2020 in a doubles. As for my singles matches, those may go on for one or two more years from now. Although I can't control it, I will fight to the end. I cherish every moment out there on the court," she said.