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French Open win likely to turn to gold for Li Na

History was made over the wekeend at the French Open when Chinese sensation Li Na triumphed over the defending champion - Italy's Francesca Shiavone - to become the first Asian-born player to win a Grand Slam singles title.

On "The Early Show" former pro tennis player Justin Gimelstob, a commentator for The Tennis Channel, said the win could be worth $20 million for the champion in endorsements.

China's Li Na wins French Open women's title
Photos: 2011 French Open


Gimelstob said her agent told him it could have something to do with her popularity online. Just after her win, Li Na's fans took to social networks and within four minutes of her win sent the star 300,000 messages on her website. There is no Facebook in China because it is not allowed, but on CINA - the Chinese version of the social network - Li Na has more than two million fans. Gimelstob said 116 million viewers tuned-in from China.

Currently, Li Na's endorsement portfolio includes Nike, Babolat - her racquet - Rolex, and Haagen-Dazs ice cream.

Gimelstob the win is also a victory for the Women's Tennis Association that has marketed to Asian regions.

He explained, "Over 33 percent of their tournaments are there, it's huge commercially. They bring in sponsors and it's going to be a huge part of activating and engaging the next group, the next wave of players in Asia."

Li Na defeated Shiavone after two hours of intense competition. She collapsed in euphoria after her historic win at Roland Garros in Paris.

Gimelstob said on "The Early Show," "I've actually had the pleasure of practicing with Li Na a couple years ago at the French Open, when her coach asked me to help her with her volleys. There was never any doubt about her talent or technique, but there was always a question as to how she would harness her emotions. But those questions were certainly answered this weekend in Paris."

Gimelstob reported Li Na showed off her powerful serves and blistering forehand, keeping Shiavone on the run.

The final featured the oldest French Open final pairing since 1986 when Chris Evert defeated Martina Navratilova. Li Na is 29. Shiavone is 30.

Speaking to the press, Li Na said, "Today is the dream come true. I was a young player, I want to be the Grand Slam champion. Now, the old woman, the dream come true, not easy."