"I hope I can inspire just one person”

Wimbledon tennis star Claire Liu is a champion for Asian Americans.

In an interview with SCMP, Asian American Wimbledon tennis star Claire Liu discussed her culture, background and inspirations.

Liu won her first ever main draw match at Wimbledon earlier this week, beating Croatia’s Ana Konjuh 6-2, 6-7 (7-2), 6-3. The 18-year-old will play 11th-seed Angelique Kerber, Wimbledon finalist in 2016, on Thursday.

Entering Wimbledon, she was ranked 237th in the world with US$137,000 in career earnings.

Speaking to SCMP, Liu said she wanted to inspire everyone, but especially Asian Americans. “Many Asian-Americans are doing really well. I would love to be a role model for anybody, especially Asian-Americans,” Liu said.

“The Chinese culture is a big part of me. I hope I can inspire just one person.”

Discussing her victory against Chinese American Ann Li to win the Wimbledon junior title, Liu said the experience was incredible.

“That was an amazing experience playing on Court One, winning a junior grand slam,” said Liu.

“It’s giving me a lot of confidence, preparing me for the pro tour, dealing with my nerves, being able to play good tennis in high pressure situations.”

For Liu, her family is deeply important. “They would sing me lullabies and take care of me,” said Liu. “It was a really good part of my childhood for sure. I was almost fluent in Chinese when I was a lot younger. Now I’m not even close. Being around them, Chinese was a big part of my language.”

Her mother, Wen Zhou said she did not even know what Wimbledon was. “I never could dream that my daughter would win matches at Wimbledon,” Wen said. “I didn’t even know what Wimbledon was.”

“Claire was always very competitive. She’s a fighter. Her passion for tennis comes from inside of her. We didn’t force her to do anything. We encouraged her because she wanted to do that.”

“My mom has had to drive me two hours there and two hours back almost every single day for the last six or seven years,” said Liu. “She sacrificed a lot.”

Liu also emphasised the importance of community. “One of the most important things is being humble,” she said. “I don’t want to be super cocky or anything. I think it’s really important giving back to the community. I’ve been making donations to the Acing for Autism charity. I think that’s really important.”

“One thing that helped me is not to view tennis as my whole life. There’s other things outside tennis. Education is a big part of it. Staying focused in school. Knowing that after tennis, I still have a huge part of my life to do.”