Anna Kournikova: One of The Most Popular Tennis Players Ever
© AP Photo/Dave Caulkin
Anna Kournikova is probably a name you came across if you have followed tennis or sports in general in the recent past. She was one of the most popular professional tennis players. At the peak of her fame her name was one of the most searched strings on Google. Her global fame was more because of her beauty and modeling than her performance on the tennis court. ESPN citing the degree of hype as compared to actual accomplishments as a singles player ranked beautiful Anna Kournikova as the 18th in its “25 Biggest Sports Flops of the Past 25 Years”.
Anna has had success in singles defeating many of the top players in the world including Lindsay Davenport, Steffi Graff, Monica Seles, Jennifer Capriati, Arantxa Sanchez and Martina Hingis. She reached a career best ranking as Worlds Number 8 in 2000.
However, Anna’s specialty has been doubles. She has at times been ranked Worlds Number 1 in doubles with Martina Hingis. She has won two Grand Slam doubles titles at the 1999 and 2002 Australian Open partnering Hingis.
Anna’s tennis career was curtailed and ended suddenly in 2003 by serious back and spinal problems.
Anna was born in Moscow, Soviet Russia, on 7 June 1981 to very young parents. Father Sergei was 20 and mother Alla was 18. Sergei says “We were young and we liked the clean, physical life, so Anna was in a good environment for sport from the beginning.”
Anna now resides in Miami Beach, Florida
There have been conflicting rumors about Kournikova’s marital status. She has consistently refused to confirm or deny the status of her personal relationships.
A lot of Anna’s fame is from her beauty and modeling. She has appeared scantily clad in several Men’s Magazines including the 2004 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. She was among the People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People in 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2003.
Since 2006 Anna has served as one of K-Swiss’ global ambassadors helping to design tennis and casual apparel for the international brand.
Life As A Tennis Pro
Anna Kournikova signed a management deal at age 10 and went to Bradenton, Florida, USA, to train at the famed Nick Bolletierri’s tennis academy.
Kournikova had a great junior career. In 1995 at age 14 she accomplished a lot. She was the youngest player ever to win the under 18 division of the prestigious Junior Orange Bowl tournament. She also won the European Championships and the Italian Open Junior tournament. Anna was crowned the ITF Junior World Champion U-18.
Anna turned pro in 1995 at the very young age of 14. She became the youngest player ever to win a Fed Cup match at 14 when she played for Russia.
In 1997 Anna reached the semi-finals of Wimbledon. She was the 2nd woman in the Open Era, next to Chris Evert, to reach the Wimbledon Semi’s in her career debut.
In 1998 Anna broke into the world’s top 20 for the first time at #16. At The Lipton Championships in Key Biscayne, Florida, Anna defeated four consecutive top 10 players in a four day period during a single tournament, an unprecedented achievement that no other female tennis player has accomplished to date. Later that year, broke into the top 10 for the first time in her career. Anna finished 1998 as World’s Number 13 in singles and 10 in doubles.
Although Anna had some success in the next few years in singles, she accomplished more in doubles as her game is more suitable for doubles. She is known for her foot speed, aggressive but risky relatively flat ground strokes, excellent angles, drop shots, good net play and sometimes unreliable serve. She won two doubles Grand Slam tiles in 1999 and 2002 at the Australian Open partnering Martina Hingis.
Kournikova has not played on the WTA Tour since 2003. She now participates in World Team Tennis matches and tennis exhibitions to support various charitable organizations.
Anna Kournikova is involved in several philanthropic activities. She works with the Boys & Girls Club of America. In partnership with the Cartoon Network, she helped launch the Get Animated campaign which encourages kids and their parents to “get up and get moving!” She is also involved in her philanthropic work with PSI, a U.S. based NGO focusing on children’s health in under developed countries. Anna Kournikova is an active participant in the USO, visiting troops and their schools on military bases around the world.