Yao's bride plays for China's women's hoop team

Updated: August 6, 2007, 10:13 PM ET
Associated Press

BEIJING -- Yao Ming married his long-term girlfriend Monday at a swanky hotel in his hometown of Shanghai.

Yao Ming and his fiancee Ye Li
AP Photo/EyePressYao Ming and bride Ye Li posed for wedding photos last week. The couple tied the knot Monday in Shanghai.

Yao, the Houston Rockets' star center, tied the knot with Ye Li, a 6-foot-2 player on the Chinese women's basketball team in a ceremony at the Shangri-La Hotel, sina.com reported.

About 70 friends and relatives attended the ceremony and banquet.

Around 100 reporters staked out the riverside hotel's lobby, but Yao sent a message that he would give no interviews. However, reporters received a compact disc of studio wedding photos, along with celebratory candy, the Web site said.

Yao told Houston television station KRIV in an interview the station agreed to hold until Monday that he was slightly scared about the prospect of marriage and was in awe of it.

"I don't how the U.S. culture thinks about marriage, but in China we know each other from 18-19 years old, maybe not too late in U.S. But it's pretty early in China," he said.

"The first couple of years, we both don't let parents know. I have a lot of fun times. After so many years we have so many good memories together, we think this is the time right now. We can stay together forever and build a new family."

Yao said he would keep his personal feelings about his bride to himself.

"I keep that in my heart," he said. "That's it."

Yao said the best moments in one's life are getting married and being first in some challenge. For him, that challenge would be winning a championship with the Rockets. "I got [the first moment] and now I am looking for No. 2."

The Titan sports newspaper reported Yao and his bride will go to Beijing on Tuesday to take part in festivities celebrating the one-year countdown to the opening of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

While in Beijing, the couple will host a dinner for members of China's men's and women's basketball teams, the Oriental Morning Post reported.

The 7-foot-6 Yao and his bride received their official marriage certificate on Friday. Photographs showed the couple in tuxedo and off-the-shoulder gown having their wedding portraits taken at a scenic resort in eastern China last week.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press