Kate, Pippa give Pantyhose ‘royal’ treatment in UK


Robin Maryland, president, ActSensuous

Earlier today, Prince William and his new bride, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, participated in a medal ceremony for the 1st Battalion Irish Guards Regiment at Victoria Barracks in Windsor. 

It was Kate’s first official military function, as she awarded operational medals to soldiers who had recently returned from service in Afghanistan.

One of this blog’s readers, (peter_a), had long been singing Kate Middleton’s praises as a devoted pantyhose wearer way before her famous marriage.   He would tell me that Kate always appears in public wearing dresses, high heels and sheer pantyhose, and that I should write about her in my blog. 

He is right.  It seems that Kate is all about beauty, glamour, style and class.   Well, add to that … ROYALTY.

Like Prince William’s famous late mother, Princess Diana, royalty really suits Kate.   It’s not at all lost on the masses in the UK and likely throughout the rest of the world that Kate is picking up right where Princess Diana left off  – at least in terms of presenting herself to the public.  

During her time as a member of the Royal Family, perhaps no woman was more dedicated to service in global humanitarian efforts than Lady Di, and her energy for fulfilling those causes was matched by her devotion to dressing beautifully and elegantly when presenting herself to the world.

Catherine, Duchess of CambridgeCredit Prince William for good taste in choosing a wife who is in every way a credit to the Royal Family.  

During the medal ceremony today, Kate wore a beautiful military-style dress in royal blue, with matching pumps and sheer nude pantyhose (photo at right).  She looked absolutely stunning.

Contrast that to the wife of the most powerful man in the USA.  She has come out publicly and trashed pantyhose, saying she hates them and will never wear them. 

So, while her husband has made history, she appears to want to go down as the first First Lady in modern history to dishonor all that the office stands for by making public appearances in “bear” legs. 

Guess she doesn’t feel that the job her husband holds is worthy of her demonstrating any class, grace, or at the very least, professionalism, in the way she dresses.  That’s making history in another way all together.  Swell.

Could anyone honestly believe that Kate would have looked as good, or that it would have been appropriate for her to go bare-legged with this outfit at this venue?

Like her famous sister, Philippa Middleton (affectionately called Pippa), is considered a fashion icon.  Fortunately, she too, has the class to always appear in public venues wearing dresses, heels and pantyhose.

ActSensuous has many customers in the UK, and from time to time, they tell us about the state of pantyhose (or, as they’re called there, tights.)  From what they’ve been telling me, pantyhose were no more popular in the UK the past 10 years than anywhere else on the planet.   But some positive news emerged this past Wednesday, when a blogger for The Huffington Post (an Internet newspaper/blog), Emily Singer, wrote a post with this headline: 

Is Pippa Middleton Responsible for Spike in Nude Tights Sales?

In her piece, Singer wrote:

“Catapulted to style stardom as a result of her sister’s wedding, Pippa Middleton’s clothing choices are almost as influential as her sister’s …

“But earlier this month, Jezebel (another blog site) pointed out that Pippa committed ‘the ultimate pantyhose sin,’ while she was spotted wearing nude tights in Paris no less.”

Wait!  Now, one isn’t supposed to wear nude pantyhose in Paris?  Oh, the rules.  Who can keep up?

Singer continued:

“And somehow, the skin-toned hosiery trend is catching on!  The Telegraph (a UK-based Internet news site) reports that sales of nude tights has ‘risen by up to 85 percent in the past year.’   The shocking increase has been attributed to a hesitancy to jump from opagues in the winter months to bare legs in the spring, as nude stockings offer an in-between of sorts.”

OK, some interesting issues here: 

First, I am glad to hear that sales of sheer nude pantyhose anywhere in the world are up at all – let alone by 85 percent.  That report in The Telegraph also states that UK customers bought 130,000 pairs of tan tights in April and the first half of May.

Second, it’s interesting that in Singer’s post, she didn’t make it clear what “the ultimate pantyhose sin” is, resulting in many of her readers writing in to ask for clarification.

I think Singer was referring to the bare legs culture in general, which has ruled the fashion industry for so long now, meaning that just the act of wearing pantyhose is “the ultimate sin.”

To me, one of the most encouraging aspects of Singer’s blog post is that the vast majority of comments I read were from women who seemed to be coming out in support of pantyhose.   I found this refreshing because, if you’ve read blog topics about pantyhose in general, you know that most men write positive things in defense of pantyhose, while most women wax on about how much they hate pantyhose. 

Somehow, I found my way on to another site: http://uk.ask.com/beauty/Pantyhose-Fashion – a sort of Q&A forum about pantyhose and fashion today.   Usually, I can’t read things like this because I end up getting really mad at all the mean things women write about how much they hate pantyhose, but surprisingly, I was thrilled to find that most comments were very much pro-pantyhose.   Most people lamented the bare legs fad, saying it never should have happened and that they looked forward to the return of pantyhose for its beauty, glamour and workplace significance. 

I also read many comments from men (and women) who blasted the bare legs look, saying it was boring and they were tired of it.   And men stated that women who wear pantyhose are much more apt to receive attention from men.

Finally, there were comments from confused readers.  Some asked in a hopeful tone if all this attention to the subject was a sign of the return of pantyhose to fashion prominence, while others confessed they never realized that pantyhose were ever considered “out” in the first place.  I love that.

      Back to Singer’s post.  She ended it this way:

“Will you follow Pippa’s lead and wear nude  hosiery on cooler summer nights, or have you sworn off the flesh-toned tights?”

Pippa and Kate, Dynamic Duo

 

Credit ‘wear’ Credit is Due – Fran Drescher


Robin Maryland, president, ActSensuous

UPDATE – Wednesday June 22:

Apparently, the joke’s on me.   Neither during last week’s pilot, nor in tonight’s second episode of the new comedy, “Happily Divorced,” has Fran Drescher worn pantyhose – or even a dress for that matter.  

I will say that I like the show.  It is upbeat and funny, and the cast includes veteran comedic actors who deliver every line, expression and gesture with impeccable timing.

When I wrote this post last week before watching the pilot, I didn’t realize that Fran’s husband/ex-husband is played by John Michael Higgins, who is very funny.  I really liked him as the psychiatrist in Ally McBeal.

So far, “I’m not (head tilt) comfortable …” with Fran or whomever is dressing her for “Happily Divorced.” 

I don’t understand how the costume designer for this show can miss the mark on selling what Fran is famous for.   If this person is going to continue to dress her in slacks and jeans, or maybe worse, dresses and skirts without pantyhose, I will stop watching. 

Nevertheless, I think Fran still deserves credit “wear” credit is due for being such an ambassador for pantyhose during the early years of her career, and that ‘s really what this post is about. 

What do you think?  Does this change anything?   Please take the poll at the end of this post.

Now, here’s what I wrote last Wednesday:

Tonight marks the debut of actress Fran Drescher’s latest TV project, Happily Divorced, premiering at 10:30 p.m. EST on TV Land (channel 304 on DirecTV), with a second showing directly afterward at 11 p.m.

 The storyline features Drescher as Los Angeles florist Fran (naturally) adjusting to the world of dating after learning that her realtor husband of 18 years, Peter, is gay.  The comedy is set around Fran juggling new relationships, while still living under the same roof as her ex-husband. 

Apparently, Fran is told by Peter in the opening scene that he has finally realized that he is gay.  Then, we fast forward six months and find that, while Fran and Peter are divorced, out of financial necessity, they are forced to continue sharing a house together.  

Actress Fran Drescher, attending a premiere event for TV Land, appears in her new sitcom tonight.

I decided to write this post tonight before the show airs.  I’m doing this for two reasons:  First, I’m not a film critic, and that’s not what this blog is about; second, I don’t care if the show is any good or not.   I like Fran Drescher because she’s funny, she’s beautiful, and more than anything else because she has always been a true pantyhose ambasador. 

Now, perhaps, the 53-year-old film and television actress, comedian, screenwriter, director, producer, author, singer, talk show host, political lobbyist and health activist wouldn’t claim “pantyhose ambassador” among her credits, but I’ll bet that readers of this blog who are Fran Drescher fans definitely think of her as one of those who fight the good fight for pantyhose.

Drescher got her start with a small part as a dancer in the 1977 blockbuster movie, Saturday Night Fever, then had roles in other movies during the 1980s.  But it was her role as Fran Fine on the TV sitcom, The Nanny, (1993-1999) that catapulted Drescher into stardom.  

In 'The Nanny,' Fran Drescher always showed off her fabulous legs in heels and pantyhose.

Created by Drescher and her then-husband (1978-1999) Peter Marc Jacobson, The Nanny, featured Fran as a whiny, nasal-voiced woman from Flushing, New York, who has just been fired from her job and abandoned by her boyfriend. 

She ends up selling cosmetics in Manhattan until making a sales call at the home of a rich, widowed English Broadway producer.  Fran is mistaken to be applying for the job of nanny to the widower’s three children and is hired for that purpose, but of course, the story is centered around the budding romance between Fran and the man.

Drescher was nominated for two Emmy Awards and two Golden Globe Awards for Best Actress in a Comedy Television Series for her work in The Nanny

I never watched the The Nanny, but I was aware of Drescher in that role, mostly for her beautiful short dresses, high heels and sheer pantyhose. 

Among Drescher’s many other TV credits are appearances on Fame (1982), 9 to 5 (1983), Who’s the Boss (1985-1986), and Night Court (1986).  More recently, she starred in (and produced) Living with Fran (2005-2007), and last year, was host (and producer) of the talk show, The Fran Drescher Show.

In 1996, Fran Drescher launched her book, 'Enter Whining', a memoir about growing up in Flushing, Queens, her early struggles in Hollywood, and her triumphant rise to fame through her hit sitcom, The Nanny. Here, Fran promotes her book at a Barnes and Noble store in New York.

Far from just an entertainer, Drescher – a cancer survivor – is known as a healthcare advocate and is recognized for her work as a Public Diplomacy Envoy for Women’s Health Issues for the U.S. State Department. 

She’s also an author, having written one book about her early struggles in Hollywood and subsequent rise to glory, and another about overcoming cancer.

Drescher is the recipient of the John Wayne Institute’s Woman of Achievement Award, the Gilda Award, The Hebrew University Humanitarian Award, and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine’s Spirit of Achievment Award.

Most recently, she was honored with the City of Hope Spiritof Life Award, which was presented to her by U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton. 

And on April 10, 2010, she was guest of honor at the “Dancer against Cancer” charity ball held at the Imperial Palace in Vienna, Austria, where she received the first “My Aid Award” for her accomplishments in support of cancer prevention and rehabilitation. 

I like Fran Drescher because she created herself in a unique and entertaining fashion that endeared herself to millions of fans.  Like many professional entertainers, she’s endured great hardships along  the way, yet, she has always carried herself with grace and dignity. 

Fran Drescher has won millions of fans for her roles on TV and in movies, but she also is adored for always wearing short dresses with high heels and sheer pantyhose.

Most of all, I respect and appreciate Fran Drescher for her devotion to dressing femininely, including always wearing dresses, high heels and sheer pantyhose. 

I don’t know if she will continue that tradition in her new show, Happily Divorced.

I’m always afraid that those you can count on most to always do the right thing will all of a sudden change gears, meaning in this case, lose the pantyhose in favor of today’s popular “bear” legs movement. 

But I seriously doubt that will be the case on Happily Divorced.  Fran Drescher is much too classy for that to happen. 

I wish Fran Drescher good luck and success with her new TV show.  

Either way, I will always be a fan because of her dedication to always setting such a great example for dressing beautifully, especially during a time when so many women seem to want to look less feminine.

Credit ‘wear’ Credit is Due – Ann Curry


Robin Maryland, president, ActSensuous

“I’m Ann Curry, in for I guess nobody this morning – me, myself and I.  It’s nice to be able to say that, isn’t it?”

That’s how the multiple-award-winning veteran journalist debuted as co-host with Matt Lauer on NBC’s “Today” show this morning, replacing Meredith Vieira who held the post the past five years.

Curry, who had been on the “Today” show since 1997 as the news anchor, and was previously passed up for the co-host spot in favor of her friend Vieira, also is anchor of “Dateline NBC,” the network’s award-winning newsmagazine. She also regularly substitute-anchors on “NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams.” 

Curry’s been on my radar for some time now, but after two readers of this blog asked me to write about “news anchors and pantyhose,” and now, with Ann making her debut as co-host of “Today,” the timing is right.  

Meredith Vieira, left, co-host of the NBC "Today" television program, embraces her fellow co-host, Matt Lauer, as her successor, Ann Curry, looks on, during her final show, in New York, Wednesday, June 8, 2011. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Other than when she’s been on-location in a jungle, a desert, or a war-torn environment, I have never seen Ann Curry not wearing a dress or skirt suit with high heels and pantyhose. 

In this sad (OK, being honest here – sickening) time when so many women want to lose the pantyhose even at the highest corporate levels, I greatly admire, respect and absolutely love Ann Curry for her dedication to being professional, glamorous and ultra feminine in the way she dresses. 

In a minute, I’ll get to the part about news anchors and pantyhose, as it appears that it’s the network and cable executives who make wearing pantyhose a policy for their female stars, but it seems to me that Ann Curry would wear of her own volition.  And, of course, we know that Meredith Vieira is famous for her devotion to wearing pantyhose in her roles as co-host of TV news/talk shows, and as host of the game show, “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”

Ann Curry maintains her professional and elegant look during a recent guest appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

I love Ann Curry and Meredith Vieira because in addition to wearing on the job, they choose to wear dresses, heels and pantyhose when they make appearances at awards shows, publicity events and late night talk shows.  To me, that is the very height of professionalism, and it shows the true, very fine character of these women. 

This post could be three pages long if I wrote about all of Curry’s accomplishments and the awards she’s won, but there are many great stories on the Internet, which you can find yourself, and I encourage you to do so. 

Suffice it to say that Curry has distinguished herself in global humanitarian reporting, frequently traveling to remote areas of the world to cover under-reported stories.

“I try to do stories that make a difference – stories that affect the way people think, stories that people need to hear – and usually what drives me is to do stories about people who have no voice, people who have no political power, people who are overlooked by society.” – Ann Curry

Ann Curry is consistent in dressing professionally, as well as femininely, always showing her lovely legs in high heels and sheer pantyhose.

If you do a Google search for Ann Curry, you will find many images of her, almost always wearing a dress or a skirt with high heels and pantyhose.  

In fact, she is becoming pretty famous for her beautiful legs.   On Google, there are image categories devoted to just her legs or just her feet.  

I love that she is dedicated to dressing professionally as a journalist, but I think it’s equally impressive that she always looks very feminine, too.     

Of Japanese (mother) and American (father) descent, Ann is a very beautiful woman.  That’s enough to win her the millions of fans she has, but she’s also cute, funny, and sweet. 

Here is an excerpt from an interview last month with TV Guide Magazine: You were certainly the people’s choice to replace Meredith. Why do you think the Today audience likes you so much?

Curry: I would say that — almost to a fault, pretty much — what you see is what you get.  Sometimes I’ve been accused of being too exuberant in the morning. Once, I said “Good morning” three times with a goofy smile on my face. I’m as fallible as the next person. I’m as goofy and dopey and silly and caring as people think I am. Take me or leave me.

TV Guide Magazine: When your co-anchor job was announced, you said you felt like the computer nerd being asked to the prom by the high school quarterback. Does it matter to you that you’re not one of the cool kids?

Curry: I think there are more nerds in the world than there are cool people, so more people might get me than you realize. I do want people to like me, but I don’t want to be loved for something I’m not; I want to be loved for something I am.  What I am is someone who grabs people and hugs them even if other people think that’s weird. I am someone who is gong to wear her heart on her sleeve. I am someone who is going to care about stories when some people think, “Why do you bother?” My motivation is how do I reach the most people to tell the stories that matter most to them. However fallible I am as a human being, my intent is earnest and my effort is constant in the practice of providing viewers good information, which I know gives them power.

Awesome Ann Curry

There’s no denying Ann’s passion and humanity, but she also is extremely professional.  She’s a total class act who has forged a distinguished career. 

Ann Curry so deserves “Credit ‘wear’ Credit is due.”   I wish her much happiness and success as the new co-host of “Today.”

News anchors and pantyhose

MSNBC's Contessa Brewer and Courtney Hazlett.

In the entertainment world, everyone knows that “sex sells.”  While the news industry was never designed to be about entertainment or sex appeal, today’s broadcast news organizations know that in the ongoing battle for audience share, they have to attract and keep viewers coming back for more. 

Perhaps, demographics show that men make up the largest audience of TV news programs, which could explain the current trend that all the powerhouses seem to follow: Feature beautiful female anchors and reporters who wear dresses, skirts and pantyhose. 

 

CNN's Carol Castello dresses up any set in heels and pantyhose.

 

And these women aren’t your daddy’s crop of journalists.  They are well educated, talented professionals.  Oh yeah, and they’ve got legs and they know how to use them.   There’s no shortage of strong, sharp, pretty women anchoring news shows, such as CNN, Fox and MSNBC.  But wait a minute, don’t anchors pretty much just sit behind a desk?  For all we know they’re wearing a suit jacket and pajama bottoms with fuzzy slippers.  Ah, but the executives calling the shots find ways of getting these news babes out behind the desk, often sitting with studio guests, showing their pretty crossed legs with high heels and pantyhose.

And, when it comes to women who are dedicated to beauty and femininity, especially when it comes to wearing pantyhose, no culture understands this power better than Asia.

On its blog, HKTV writes:

“For many years, Bernie Lo was the host of Bloomberg’s morning show. He would inject humor into the daily headlines, which was a great tension reliever for guests or analysts reporting on the show. When Bernie returned to CNBC, Bloomberg had to make some choices. Competition from all directions came from networks including Fox Networks and CNBC.

“Now, … Bloomberg has a new strategy to attract new viewers … Susan Li’s legs.

Susan Li of Bloomberg Asia interviewing a financial analyst.

“Those opinions are clearly overlooking her skills as a broadcast journalist to keep the audience tuned in to “First Up with Susan Li on Bloomberg Television. 

Susan Li's interviews are concise and get right to the point to capture viewer attention. Of course, her legs can do that without saying a word.

“Susan Li also uses clear, simple language during the interview.  She does not let the analysts and fund managers “talk their book,” which is a practice where guests provide recommendations that benefit their investments; instead, Susan Li often politely asks the guests to clarify their statements.

Susan Li of Bloomberg Asia discusses market data with a guest analyst.

“The clarification sometimes leads to more thoughtful discourse, as her use of clear language to highlight the main ideas translates the “analyst speak” for Bloomberg TV viewers. Clarifying analyst comments or recommendations maintains the credibility of the Bloomberg brand, while subtly signaling to the guest that the interview is a discussion and not a sales pitch.”

Of course, there are many other news anchors and in-studio broadcast reporters who are talented and professional, and know how to capture viewers with their glamorous and sexy looks. 

Did I leave out your favorites?   Please let us know who your favorite news anchors in pantyhose are.

Meanwhile, here’s another picture of Susan Li and her gorgeous legs in pantyhose.

Look at the texture of Susan Li's delicious pantyhose. Is that guest trying to discreetly cop a feel?
 

Li Na — Beauty and the Best


Congratulations to Li Na of Wuhan, China, who has become the first Chinese player (man or woman) in history to win a Grand Slam singles tennis title, capturing the 2011 French Open today on Court Philippe Chatrier at Roland Garros inParis.

Li, 29, defeated defending champion Francesca Schiavone, 30, of Italy in straight sets, 6-4, 7-6 (7-0).

While the second set was more of a challenge, Li’s performance was amazing, serving at 76 percent, winning 69 percent of points on her second serve, and smacking 31 winners, dictating play throughout and pinning Schiavone back and neutralizing her impressive court coverage and net game.

I love Li Na, and I could not be happier for her.  To me, she is the most elegant, classy and gracious player on the WTA, and I love her game.  She can make every shot, hits the ball hard and flat, moves extremely well and has a good serve.

Li Na of China reacts after capturing the 2011 French Open women’s singles title Saturday in Paris.

While she is happiest camping on the base line, hitting the ball with great pace and extreme precision –  teasing all the lines, finding each corner and producing amazing angles – she plays the net well, too.  She is fast, graceful, powerful and a thrill to watch.

Strong is Beautiful  

The timing is great for Li Na and many of her fellow players, who are featured in a Women’s Tennis Association new ad campaign:  “Strong is Beautiful,” which launched last month, ostensibly aimed at trying to attract more male fans.

Li Na is featured in the WTA’s new “Strong is Beautiful” advertising campaign.

The movie quality videos feature dry ice and wind machines blowing done-up hair and dresses over svelte figures of WTA stars, while they blast serves or drive ground strokes toward the camera.

While the videos have sparked a little controversy, I like the idea of glamourizing the WTA stars.  These women are amazing athletes, so it’s nice that they have a chance to show the world their feminine side.  But let’s not miss an opportunity here.  As long as the women are sporting makeup, have their hair done, and are wearing dresses or skirts, why not put them in pantyhose and high heels?  So far, the videos I’ve seen have them decked out, but still wearing tennis shoes.

I’m reminded that one of my polls a couple of years ago on this blog asked: “Which Celebrity do you most want to see in Pantyhose?”  We got some great answers – all the usual suspects, but one name  was added by a voter under the “Other” category – he or she wrote in Jelena Jankovic.  I thought that was cute, but I had to agree.

Jelena is one of the most feminine players on the WTA, and she does like to do “girly” when she’s off the court.  She particularly loves high heels.  I’d love to see Jelena in pantyhose.

Li Na prepares to serve during a match.

While Li Na has a lovely figure, you can see she is strong, with muscles that have been honed during a long career.

And you can’t help but notice Na has great legs.

When I decided to make this blog post about Li Na, I did a Google search for images of Na, hoping to find at least one pic of her in which she was dressed formally, figuring I could show her to you in pantyhose and high heels.  No such luck.

[See July 2012 update and photo at end of post.]

Athletes and Pantyhose

As cool as it is to see photos of actresses and other celebrities wearing pantyhose when they don’t have to, such as when they’re out and about, making promotional appearances or attending a special event, it might be even neater to see professional athletes lose the tennis shoes once in a while in favor of high heels and pantyhose.

I love this photo of recently-retired WTA star Elena Dimentieva.  I always thought she was one of the more feminine-looking WTA players, but I had no idea she could look this amazing.

Then, there are the professional athletes who wear pantyhose as an integral part of their outfit.

One such group is professional figure skaters.

Miki Ando

Figure skating is a beautiful and graceful sport.  Similar to tennis, the combination of  the power, grace and beauty of the athletes makes the sport a pleasure to watch, but could you imagine figure skaters not wearing pantyhose?

More than with any other sport, figure skating costumes are decidedly delicate and ultra feminine, and pantyhose are so important to the look of figure skaters.

It is my hope that since female figure skaters are introduced to the positive and glamorous aspects of pantyhose at an early age, they will go on to wear more often in their personal lives.

Another group of professional athletes who wear pantyhose as an integral part of their outfits is the cheerleaders of the NFL and NBA?

In the case of cheerleaders for NFL teams in hot weather climates, such as Florida, I greatly respect those ladies who understand that pantyhose are so essential to their look, even though they have to routinely perform in near-100 degree temperatures.

By contrast, so many women gripe that it’s too hot to wear pantyhose, even though they are spending the majority of their time in air-conditioned office buildings, usually sitting.  How sad.

Back to Li Na

I was always a Jelena Jankovic fan, until I saw my first Li Na match in January of this year.  It was just prior to the Australian Open.  Li faced Kim Clijsters of Belgium in a tuneup event in Sydney, Australia before the Australia Open in Melbourne the following week.  Na was down 5-0 in the first set, but came back to win that set (7-5) and the next, capturing her first major title, on the way to becoming the first-ever Asian player to make it to a Grand Slam event – the Australian Open.

Li Na drives a backhand during the 2011 Australian Open against Kim Clijsters.

I loved everything about her:  The way she strikes the ball, her confidence and courage in constructing points, and her beautiful movement on the court.  Seeing her play a few times, I was won over.  I officially became a Li Na fan (sorry, Jelena), and have been cheering for her ever since.  I was sorry to see her lose in the Australian Open, but was thrilled in the process to learn, along with the entire tennis world, much about Li Na.  (I still like Jelena and want her to win, but not if she comes up against Li Na.)

As Li was making tennis history, the pre- and post-match interviews came, and we all got to see another side of the totally focused and intense player Li is on the court.  That’s when I came to love Na.  What a sweet, cute and funny personality she is!  We learned that she is very popular in the locker room and a favorite among other players.

During a postgame interview after Li’s semifinal win in Sydney, an interviewer asked Li what it was like having her husband as her coach (at that time), and what he gave her that was motivational?  Li’s answer:  “Credit card.”  She said that with a big smile to a roar of laughter from the crowd.  Apparently, Na gets to go shopping after each match she wins.  Then, the interviewer asked her if she was going to watch tape of her next opponent.  Li’s answer: “I think that husband’s job.  I’m going to lie in bed and watch TV.”  Again, the crowd roared with laughter.  During another interview, Li was asked about how rested she was for an upcoming match, and again, Li cracked everyone up by imitating her husband’s snoring.

Already a hero in China, Li Na likely will enjoy rockstar status now.

If Na weren’t so lovely, graceful and an absolute powerhouse on the court, her cute personality and sense of humor alone would have gained her legions of new fans.

But it’s even more than all that.  Na is a very kind and caring person.  I’ve read that there have been many cases in which she donated all her prize money from a winning a match to earthquake victims, or for orphanages in China.

One thing I admire about Na is she never loses her temper, throws a racket or argues about bad calls.

At times, she gets a bit flustered (at herself), but she doesn’t let it cost her a match.  And when her forehand deserts her or she disappears during a few games, she trusts and believes in herself, and she continues to play her style of high-risk/high-reward, all-out tennis.

Leading up to the final, Li played brilliantly against three powerhouses, who none of the “experts” gave her a chance to beat.  First, she overcame dropping a first set (I think 6-1) to Petra Kvitova, who has a monster serve and booming ground strokes.  I was so proud of Li for coming back and winning the next two sets convincingly.  Then, it was Victoria Azarenka, who everyone said had too much power for Li.  But Na took her down in straight sets.  Finally, no one gave Li much of a chance against Maria Sharapova, with her power, serve and experience, but Na dispatched her in straight sets, too.

I kept talking to the TV, telling Li: “If you come back (from down one set to Kvitova), and win this match, your legend in China will be off the charts.”  And I said the same types of things during the Azarenka and Sharapova matches.

Still, I think everyone expected Schiavone to win the French Open.  They thought Schiavone’s experience, her scrambling ability, variety of shots with topspin and slices and net play, not to mention that she had won the event last year, would frustrate Li.  But Li was cool, calm and focused, and she seemed from the outset like she was on a mission.

Because of the excellent coverage on Tennis Channel on DirecTV, I was able to take advantage of the French Open Mix, in which viewers can choose to watch up to six matches at a time.  I got up each morning at 5 a.m. the past 10 days so that I could see each of Li’s matches.

Li Na appears poised for many more wins and records.

I am so proud of Na.  I was standing, cheering, applauding and holding my breath during many rallies.  I’ve never been so engaged as a tennis fan.  It was like watching NFL games.

Having won the French Open, Li Na will now be ranked Number 4 in the world – yet another record for China.

Congratulations, Li Na.  You deserve this win.  You are a true champion, not just in China, but throughout the tennis world.

I am absolutely thrilled for you.

Update July 2012

Unlike with traditional newspaper or magazine stories, one of the beauties of a blog is the ability to edit at any time a story that’s already been published.   If you follow the WTA, you know Li Na hasn’t enjoyed much (or any) success since her history-making victory in the 2011 French Open.

I’m no fair-weather fan, and I still love Li Na.  I watch every match of her’s I can find, which is like none lately.  Amazing how not winning can get one bounced off the TV schedule.   Of course the exception is the majors, and as a DirecTV customer with the Tennis Channel, I was able to see Li’s matches in this year’s Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon.

They were hard to watch, as Li was knocked out of each tournament way too early,  and it killed me to see how the immense pressure that being a newly-minted rock star in Asia and the world affected Na’s psyche, as has the toll of being a $50 million endorser for the likes of Mercedes Benz, Haagen-Dazs and other international brands.   It broke my heart to watch match after match where Na was a point or two away from winning, but struggled to put an opponent away, only to watch that opponent mount a comeback for the win.

I’ll say this though:  No one beats Li Na except Li Na.  She still is far and away the more talented player on the court, but her nerves seemingly are shot.  The only match I saw where she looked like her championship self was in the final of this year’s Melbourne tuneup match to the Australian Open, this time against Maria Sharapova.  That match turned into a tightly-contested marathon in which both players had numerous chances to win.  I can’t tell you how badly I wanted Na to win this one.  I felt like she really needed it.

Soon, it’ll be time for the final major of the 2012 season – the U.S. Open in New York.   It’s a hardcourt surface, which suits Li’s game well, so I will be glued to my big screen TV, hoping, wishing and shouting encouragement to my tennis hero.

Pantyhose connection

Other than my posts that feature a celebrity receiving our Grizzly Award for being anti-pantyhose and in favor of today’s ugly “bear”-legs movement, this post I originally wrote in June  2011 remained the only one that really wasn’t about pantyhose.  Of course, I finagled a pantyhose angle by throwing in a bit about professional athletes in pantyhose.  But, hard as I tried, I could not find one picture of Li Na wearing pantyhose.  In most cases, that would have discouraged me from writing the post, but I was so thrilled that my new favorite WTA player had just won her first major, I had to do it.

Then, an entire year after this post was published, one of our readers, phish, wrote a comment last month proudly attaching a link with a picture he’d found of Li Na wearing pantyhose.

You’ll see what he wrote in the Comments section below:  In part, it reads:  “Happened upon your blog and saw this post about Li Na and that, sadly, you hadn’t found any pics of her in hose.  Well, here you go!”

2011 French Open champion Li Na, left, presents an autographed photo to a fan during an event at which international ice cream maker Haagen-Dazs signs a sponsorship contract with Li on Feb. 8, 2012 in Beijing, China.

Talk about worth the wait.  Wow.  Li Na looks so beautiful in this picture.  I really wish she would wear more often.  She studied journalism at a university in China, so maybe when she retires from tennis, she’ll become a journalist, or perhaps a commentator for the WTA.  If so, she’s professional and classy enough that she likely would wear dresses, skirts and suits with high heels and pantyhose.
Today, I thanked phish again for this photo of Li Na, and this is what he told me:

“When I saw that you had an entire article about Li Na, but without any photos of her in hosiery, I took it as a challenge to find some.  Fortunately, I found that set, but unfortunately, that’s the only one I could find out there.  Sorry!”

I love it when my readers participate in my blog by leaving comments about my different posts, and especially, when they make it their mission to help us all by doing the impossible in some cases, and finding rare and treasured photos, such as this one of Li Na in pantyhose.

There, this blog post is justified now.