Placed under the direct administration of central government a good 20 years ago, the special economic zone is home to not one but seven cities with an impressive skyline – each of which would be a millions-strong city in Europe – plus thousands of bridges, hundreds of thousands of restaurants and countless palm parks. “It’s perfect,” says Li Na, taking a sideways glance at the SUV. “I think the city, the car and I have a few things in common: drive, energy, a kind of coolness, I hope.” So, how long has she been a brand ambassador for Mercedes-Benz? “Since 2011, when I won my first Grand Slam,” she replies, taking a sip of bottled water. “I liked the slogan: ‘The best or nothing’. That was my maxim, too: to be the best. I would have been, as well, if I hadn’t been so prone to injury.” By this she means her right knee, which was ultimately what ended her career – at 32. Much of the few million dollars she won in prize money was donated to charitable causes.