BIRIMINGHAM, England (AFP) — Tine Rasmussen, who not long ago worked as a secretary to help fund her badminton, will defend her title the All-England Open which starts on Wednesday as the only woman who has loosened the Chinese dominance.
The last decade has seen 43 of the 50 All-England titles go to Asian players, fully 29 of them to China. And in women's singles eight of the last ten were won by Chinese.
But despite being past her mid-twenties before making her surge from obscurity, Rasmussen is now world number one, the winner of the first two Super Series tournaments of 2009, and a reasonable bet, in European conditions, to test the world's greatest badminton nation again this week.
The 29-year-old Dane is tall and striking, and her style strong and attacking, but her character is an intriguing mix of assertiveness and vulnerability. She also attributes her wonderful start to the year in Korea and Malaysia partly to the power of love.
"Um, I think we, er, we had some things at home, private stuff," she said with an engaging diffidence. "And it was finished.
"We were building up our house, me and my boy-friend, and we had a lot of stuff to decide on all this time. And just before Christmas we moved in," she said.