Zheng Jie and Yan Zi captured
China's first Wimbledon title on Sunday when they beat Virginia Ruano
Pascual and Paola Suarez 6-3 3-6 6-2 in the women's doubles final.
Yan Zi (R)
and Zheng Jie of China hold their Women's Doubles Championship
trophies on the Centre Court at Wimbledon, July 9, 2006. [AP
The fourth-seeded pair claimed their second major title of the year
after winning the country's first grand
slam trophy at the Australian Open in January.
Their win capped a successful run for the world's most populous nation
at the grasscourt championships after Li Na had made her mark in the women's singles draw
earlier in the week.
Li was the first Chinese player to reach the singles quarter-finals at a grand slam,
where her run was ended by Belgian Kim Clijsters.
Since Li Ting and Sun Tiantian's victory in the women's doubles at the 2004 Athens Olympics,
China has made big strides in women's tennis.
The players have benefited from their federation's push to produce
world class competitors in time for the 2008 Beijing Games and Sunday's
win proved China could achieve its target of landing an Olympic gold in
tennis in two years' time.
Zheng and Yan's win also prevented Ruano Pascual and Suarez from
completing a career doubles grand slam. The unseeded Spanish-Argentine duo
own eight major titles but have now fallen at the final hurdle at
Wimbledon for the third time.
Zheng served for the match at 5-1 up in the third set but despite
holding two championship points, she was broken thanks to some tenacious
hitting by Suarez.
The Chinese pair also saw four more match points go begging in the next
game as Suarez came back from 0-40 to hang on for dear life.
But it proved to be seventh time lucky for Zheng and Yan. A volley
winner ended the Centre Court contest after two hours and eight minutes
and the beaming Chinese pair celebrated their historic win with a warm