Kuala Lumpur, Oct 17: Former Olympic gold medalist Li Xuerui has announced her retirement from international tournaments hosted by the Badminton World Federation (BWF), the organisation revealed on Thursday.
In an article published on its website, the BWF praised Li, 28, as one of the "most dominant players of her time" before a major injury at the Rio Olympics in 2016 disrupted her career.
Li's first major success came at the 2010 Badminton Asia Championships as a 19-year-old. She continued to enjoy a meteoric rise and soon became a favorite at most of the top-tier events.
Li's first BWF Superseries title was won at the 2012 All England tournament. The biggest moment of her career came later that year when she won gold in the women's singles event at the London Olympics.
Li was ranked world no 1 between 2013 and 2015, but suffered two consecutive defeats at the finals of the BWF World Championships in 2013 and 2014.
Li returned to the Olympic Games as one of the top contenders at Rio 2016, but collapsed to the floor during her semifinal against Carolina Marin of Spain. Her injury, diagnosed as an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture, kept her out of the sport for over a year.
Li made a moderately successful return, winning her first comeback event - the Lingshui China Masters - in April 2018. She proceeded to complete a hat-trick of titles, winning the US Open and the Canada Open but struggled to reclaim the form she had previously enjoyed at top-tier events.
Her last event was the recent Korea Open in September, when she retired from her first-round match against Japan's Sayaka Takahashi. She ranked 20th in the BWF's latest world rankings.
Li finished her international badminton career with 14 Superseries titles and was BWF Female Player of the Year in 2013.
According to the BWF article, Li will be remembered "as an attacking player with a never-say-die spirit, who, along with her compatriots Wang Yihan and Wang Shixian, continued China's glorious tradition in women's singles." (UNI-Xinhua)