Fan Bingbing: Mystery celebrity of Chinese tennis

( – In a radical stretch of propaganda from Chinese state media, one of the country’s most respected tennis stars is making the world her court, while the Tennis Association of China literally does not know what to do.

Fan Bingbing, who went missing from online media and social media on June 8, has made her way to the Far East — not to replace Monica Seles in the women’s professional tour, but instead to promote the Chinese powerhouses manufacturer Jiangsu VU.

Online chat boards are filled with speculation about why she has headed East, largely since there’s been no apparent explanation for what happened to Fan. Who exactly is Fan Bingbing? And why is she singing a Chinese song?

Reports say she has been on an off-and-on date with famous British TV journalist Harry Firth, a man who seemed to have been “left in the lurch” by the rapidly disappearing star. But there are also rumors in Chinese media about a secret wedding.

But for all the passion and mystery around Fan Bingbing, the fun comes from reality TV shows, where she used to be a contestant.

In Fan Bingbing’s case, the easy love story starts in 2006, when he was 15 and she was 16, and they moved to Hong Kong to attend the International School of Hong Kong. Their romance escalated when they decided to attend college together in neighboring Macau in the same class. By 2010, they had graduated to Beijing’s Foreign Languages Normal University.

How that got her famous

Fan and her boyfriend would later fall in love with one another. They are still in a relationship, but her twin sister spent almost all of 2015 in jail, and has been out since March. According to Fan, her sister wrote a fake letter to an executive in the Financial Times newsroom, allegedly on behalf of her twin sister, allegedly sending a fake letter that led to Fan’s visa being revoked, prompting her to leave for Shanghai, then Hong Kong and finally, China.

So you see why people can be cynical about her disappearance. What exactly does Fan Bingbing do for a living? The T.V. show in China featuring her will tell you that she’s a “designer for products.” On the Eiffel Tower in Paris, she’s used her marketing sense to raise more than $1 million to renovate a classroom. In China, she’s appeared on TV shows and comedy series, but not in many in English. She is a Google search type-A personality, so we feel comfortable saying that almost anyone’s can appear on one of these celebrity-driven TV shows.

Appearing on a reality show is actually not a sure route to official and popular fame. One example is Sun Li, an entrepreneur that won the 2012 Miss Beijing pageant and has been an online celebrity ever since. While she’s been fairly well-known in China, Li has been MIA for the past two years. With only one season on TV, this one-hit wonder will never be a celebrity in the way that these players get recognized at tennis matches across the globe. But this doesn’t explain why Li is being single, or why Fan is single. And that’s the mystery.

Whatever future awaits the woman many might consider a cult phenomenon, she’s leaving us in suspense. But if she’s even half as interesting as we think she is, we can’t wait to find out what she’s got in store.

By Jenny Eklund, KXAN News

Leave a Comment