Sure-footed Sabalenka leaps to new heights of adulation

Aryna Sabalenka’s popularity has literally kicked up a notch thanks to the Belarusian’s impressive kung fu skills.

The world No 13’s victory at last year’s Wuhan Open had already assured her of warm welcome on her return to China.

However, images of the 21-year-old expertly executing flying kicks like a wushu master have endeared her even more to Chinese fans.

The pictures, which went viral on social media, were taken earlier this month during Sabalenka’s visit to martial arts shrine the Shaolin Temple following her run to the quarterfinals of the Zhengzhou Open in the capital city of Henan province.

“It was a very nice experience, and I enjoyed every minute of being there,” Sabalenka told China Daily in Wuhan.

“I was there to watch the kung fu show. It was truly a nice one. I don’t know exactly what they are all called, but I did some jumps, easy positions. It was really nice and I enjoyed it.”

The experience has left Sabalenka curious to learn more about Chinese traditions and cultures.

“I just tried kung fu, and I’m really looking forward to something else. I really like it,” said Sabalenka, who also learned to cook hand-pulled noodles during a promotional event in Zhengzhou.

The big-hitting Sabalenka has begun to show glimpses of superstar potential in recent years.

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