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Anna Kournikova

Anna Sergeyevna Kournikova (Russian: Анна Сергеевна Ку́рникова Anna Sergeevna Kurnikova; born 7 June 1981) is a semi-retired Russian professional tennis player and model. Her celebrity status made her one of the best known tennis players worldwide. At the peak of her fame, fans looking for images of Kournikova made her name (or misspellings of it) one of the most common search strings on the internet search engine Google.

Although also successful in singles, reaching #8 in the world in 2000, Kournikova's specialty has been doubles, where she has at times been the world's number one-ranked player. With Martina Hingis as her partner, she won Grand Slam titles in Australia in 1999 and 2002. Kournikova's major-league tennis career has been curtailed for the past several years, and possibly ended, by serious back and spinal problems.

Kournikova was born in Moscow in the former Soviet Union to Alla and Sergei Kournikov; she and her mother later emigrated to the United States. Currently, she resides in Miami Beach, Florida, and plays in occasional exhibitions and in doubles for the St. Louis Aces of World Team Tennis.

Early life

Anna was born in Moscow, Russia (Soviet Union then) on June 7, 1981. Her father, Sergei Kournikov was 20 at the time. Sergei, a former Greco-Roman wrestling champion, had earned a Ph.D and was a professor at the University of Physical Culture and Sport in Moscow. As of 2001, he was still a part-time martial arts instructor there. Her mother Alla, a sturdily built blonde who was 18 when Anna was born, had been a 400-meter runner.

Sergei said: "We were young and we liked the clean, physical life, so Anna was in a good environment for sport from the beginning. The family name is spelled in Russian without an "o", so a direct translation would be "Kurnikova", and it is sometimes written that way. But it is pronounced "Kournikova", so the family chose that as their English spelling.

Anna received her first tennis racquet as a Christmas gift in 1986 at age 5. Anna says: "I played two times a week from age five. It was a children's program. And it was just for fun; my parents didn't know I was going to play professionally, they just wanted me to do something because I had lots of energy. It was only when I started playing well at seven that I went to a professional academy. I would go to school, and then my parents would take me to the club, and I'd spend the rest of the day there just having fun with the kids.

Tennis career

Early career

In 1986, Anna became a member of the prestigious Spartak Tennis Club, coached by Larissa Preobraschenskaja. In 1989, at the tender age of eight, Anna began appearing in junior tournaments, and by the following year, was attracting attention from tennis scouts across the world. Anna signed a management deal at age ten and went to Bradenton, Florida to train at Nick Bollettieri's celebrated tennis academy.

Following her arrival in the United States, Anna exploded onto the tennis scene, making her the internationally recognized tennis star she is today. At the age of 14, she went on to win the European Championships and the Italian Open Junior tournament. Anna also beat out the competition to win the prestigious Junior Orange Bowl, becoming the youngest player ever to win the 18 and under division at that tournament. By the end of the year, Anna was crowned the ITF Junior World Champion U-18 and Junior European Champion U-18.

Professional career

Kournikova debuted in professional tennis at age 14 in the Fed Cup for Russia, the youngest player ever to participate and win. In 1995, she turned pro, and won two ITF titles, in Midland, Michigan and Rockford, Illinois. At age 15, she reached the fourth round of the 1996 U.S. Open, only to be stopped by then-top ranked player, Steffi Graf. Kournikova was a member of the Russian delegation to the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. In 1996, she was named WTA Newcomer of the Year. In 1997, as a 16-year-old, she reached the semi-finals of Wimbledon, where she lost to the eventual champion, Martina Hingis by a score of 6–3, 6–2.

1998 was her breakthrough year, when she broke into the WTA's top 20 rankings for the first time and scored impressive victories over Martina Hingis, Lindsay Davenport, and Steffi Graf. Kournikova's two Grand Slam doubles titles came in 1999 and 2002, both at the Australian Open in the Women's Doubles event with partner Martina Hingis, with whom she played frequently starting in 1999. Kournikova proved a successful doubles player on the professional circuit, winning 16 tournament doubles titles, including two Australian Opens and being a finalist in mixed doubles at the U.S. Open and at Wimbledon, and reaching the No.1 ranking in doubles in the Women's Tennis Association tour rankings. Her pro career doubles record was 200-71. However, her singles career plateaued after 1999. For the most part, she managed to retain her ranking between 10 and 15 (her career high singles ranking was No.8), but her expected finals breakthrough failed to occur; she only reached four finals out of 130 singles tournaments, never in a Grand Slam event, and never won one.

Her singles record is 209-129. Her final playing years were marred by a string of injuries, especially back injuries, which caused her ranking to erode gradually.

Present

Kournikova has not played on the WTA Tour since 2003, but still plays exhibition matches for charitable causes. In late 2004, she participated in three events organized by Elton John and by fellow tennis players Serena Williams and Andy Roddick. In January 2005, she played in a doubles charity event for the Indian Ocean tsunami with John McEnroe, Roddick, and Chris Evert. In November 2005, she teamed up with Martina Hingis, playing against Lisa Raymond and Samantha Stosur in the WTT finals for charity. Kournikova is also a member of the St. Louis Aces in the World Team Tennis (WTT), playing doubles only.

In September 2008, Kournikova showed up for the 2008 Nautica Malibu Triathlon held at Zuma Beach in Malibu. The Race raised funds for children's Hospital Los Angeles. She won that race for women's K-Swiss team. On September 27, 2008, Kournikova played exhibition matches in Charlotte, North Carolina; she played two mixed doubles matches. She partnered Tim Wilkison and Karel Novacek. Kournikova and Wilkinson defeated Jimmy Arias and Chanda Rubin, and then Kournikova and Novacek defeated Chanda Rubin and Tim Wilkison.

She is the current K-Swiss spokesperson.

In a feature for ELLE magazine's July 2005 issue, Kournikova stated that if she were 100% fit, she would like to come back and compete again.

Playing style

As a player, Kournikova was noted for her footspeed and aggressive baseline play, and excellent angles and dropshots; however, her relatively flat, high-risk groundstrokes tended to produce frequent errors, and her serve was sometimes unreliable in singles.

Kournikova holds her racket in her right hand but uses both hands when she plays backhand shots. She is a good player at the net. She can hit forceful groundstrokes and also drop shots.

Her playing style fits the profile for a doubles player, and is complemented by her height. She has been compared to such doubles specialists as Pam Shriver and Peter Fleming.

Personal life

Kournikova's marital status has been an issue on several occasions. There were conflicting rumors about whether or not she was engaged to ice hockey player Pavel Bure. There were reports that she married NHL ice hockey star Sergei Fedorov in 2001. Kournikova's representatives have denied this, but Fedorov stated in 2003 that the couple had married and since divorced.

Kournikova currently has a relationship with pop star Enrique Iglesias (in whose video, "Escape", she appeared), and rumors that the couple had secretly married appeared in 2003 and again in 2005. Kournikova herself has consistently refused to directly confirm or deny rumors about the status of her personal relationships. But, in May 2007, Enrique Iglesias was (mistakenly, as he would clarify later) quoted in the New York Sun that he had no intention to marry Anna and settle down because they had split up. The singer would later deny these rumors of "divorce" or simply separation. In June 2008, Iglesias told the Daily Star that he had married Kournikova the previous year and that they are currently separated. Enrique has stated in interviews after that that it was simply a joke, and they are still very much together.

Anna Kournikova's favorite movie is Pretty Woman and television series Desperate Housewives. She also loves the music of Enrique Iglesias, Elton John, Sade and Gwen Stefani; her favorite color is black.

Media publicity

Most of Kournikova's fame has come from the publicity surrounding her personal life, as well as numerous modeling shoots. During Kournikova's debut at the 1996 U.S. Open at the age of 15, the world noticed her beauty, and soon pictures of her appeared in numerous magazines worldwide.

In 2000, Kournikova became the new face for Berlei's shock absorber sports bras, and appeared in the highly successful "only the ball should bounce" billboard campaign. Photographs of her scantily-clad form have appeared in various men's magazines, including more than one much-publicized Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue (2004 - 2005), where she posed in bikinis and swimsuits, and in other popular men's publications such as FHM and Maxim. Kournikova was named one of People's 50 Most Beautiful People in 1998, 2000, 2002, and 2003 and was voted "hottest female athlete" and "hottest couple" (with Iglesias) on ESPN.com. In 2002 she also placed first in FHM's 100 Sexiest Women in the World in U.S. and UK editions. By contrast, ESPN — citing the degree of hype as compared to actual accomplishments as a singles player — ranked Kournikova 18th in its "25 Biggest Sports Flops of the Past 25 Years". Kournikova was also ranked #1 in the ESPN Classic series "Who's number 1?" when the series featured sport's most overrated athletes.

Awards

Grand Slam doubles finals (3)

Wins (2)

Year Championship Partnering Opponents in Final Score in Final
1999 Australian Open Martina Hingis Lindsay Davenport
Natasha Zvereva
7–5, 6–3
2002 Australian Open (2) Martina Hingis Daniela Hantuchová
Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario
6–2, 6–7, 6–1

Runner-up (1)

Year Championship Partnering Opponents in semi final Score in Final
1999 French Open Martina Hingis Serena Williams
Venus Williams
6–3, 6–7, 8–6

Grand Slam mixed doubles finals (2)

Wins (0)

Runner-ups (2)

Year Championship Partnering Opponents in Final Score in Final
1999 Wimbledon Jonas Björkman Leander Paes
Lisa Raymond
6–4, 3–6, 6–3
2000 U.S. Open Max Mirnyi Jared Palmer
Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario
6–4, 6–3

WTA Tour titles (16)

Doubles (16)

Legend
Grand Slam (2)
WTA Championships (2)
Tier I (4)
Tier II (6)
Tier III (1)
Tier IV (1)
No. Date Tournament Surface Partnering Opponents in the final Score
1. 09-21-98 Tokyo, Japan Hard Monica Seles Mary Joe Fernández &
Arantxa Sánchez Vicario
6–4 6–4
2. 01-08-99 Australian Open, Melbourne Hard Martina Hingis Lindsay Davenport &
Natasha Zvereva
7–5, 6–3
3. 03-01-99 Indian Wells Masters, U.S. Hard Martina Hingis Mary Joe Fernández &
Jana Novotna
6–2, 6–2
4. 05-03-99 Rome Masters, Italy Clay Martina Hingis Alexandra Fusai &
Nathalie Tauziat
6–2, 6–2
5. 06-14-99 Eastbourne, England Grass Martina Hingis Jana Novotná &
Natasha Zvereva
6–4, ret.
6. 11-15-99 WTA Championships, New York, USA Carpet Martina Hingis Larisa Neiland &
Arantxa Sánchez Vicario
6–4, 6–4
7. 01-03-00 Gold Coast, Australia Hard Julie Halard Sabine Appelmans &
Rita Grande
6–3, 6–0
8. 05-01-00 Hamburg, Germany Clay Natasha Zvereva Nicole Arendt &
Manon Bollegraf
65-7, 6–2, 6–4
9. 10-02-00 Filderstadt, Germany Hard (I) Martina Hingis Arantxa Sánchez Vicario &
Barbara Schett
6–4, 6–2
10. 10-09-00 Zurich, Switzerland Carpet Martina Hingis Kimberly Po &
Anne-Gaëlle Sidot
6–3, 6–4
11. 11-06-00 Philadelphia, USA Carpet Martina Hingis Lisa Raymond &
Rennae Stubbs
6–2, 7–5
12. 11-13-00 WTA Championships, New York, USA Carpet Martina Hingis Nicole Arendt &
Manon Bollegraf
6–2, 6–3
13. 01-08-01 Sydney, Australia Hard Barbara Schett Lisa Raymond &
Rennae Stubbs
6–2, 7–5
14. 10-01-01 Moscow, Russia Carpet Martina Hingis Elena Dementieva &
Lina Krasnoroutskaya
7–61, 6–3
15. 01-14-02 Australian Open, Melbourne Hard Martina Hingis Daniela Hantuchová &
Arantxa Sánchez Vicario
6–2, 64-7, 6–1
16. 09-09-02 Shanghai, PR China Hard Janet Lee Ai Sugiyama &
Rika Fujiwara
7–5, 6–3

Finalist (18)

Singles (4)

Doubles (12)

Mixed doubles (2)

ITF Circuit titles (2)

No. Date Tournament Surface Opponent in the final Score
1. 18 February 1996 Midland, United States Hard Lindsay Lee Waters 7-6(2) 6-1
2. 10 March 1996 Rockford, United States Hard Yuka Yoshida 6-1, 6-4

Singles performance timeline

Tournament 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 Career SR Career W-L
Australian Open A A 1R 3R 4R 4R QF 1R 2R 0 / 7 13-7
French Open A A 3R 4R 4R 2R A 1R A 0 / 5 9–5
Wimbledon A A SF A 4R 2R A 1R A 0 / 4 9–4
U.S. Open A 4R 2R 4R A 3R A 1R A 0 / 5 9–5
Grand Slam SR 0 / 0 0 / 1 0 / 4 0 / 3 0 / 3 0 / 4 0 / 1 0 / 4 0 / 1 0 / 21 N/A
Grand Slam Win-Loss 0–0 3–1 8–4 8–3 9–3 7–4 4–1 0–4 1–1 N/A 40-21
WTA Tour Championships A A A A A SF A A A 0 / 0 0–0
Tokyo A A A A QF QF SF SF A 0 / 4 9–4
Indian Wells A A 2R 3R 1R 3R A 2R A 0 / 5 4–5
Miami A A 4R F 4R 4R A 1R 1R 0 / 6 12-6
Charleston A A A A F 3R A 1R 1R 0 / 4 5–4
Berlin A A QF SF 1R 2R A A A 0 / 4 7–4
Rome A A 2R QF 3R A A 3R A 0 / 4 8–4
Montreal/Toronto A A A 3R A 3R A 3R A 0 / 3 5–3
Moscow1 2R 2R A 1R A F 1R 2R A 0 / 6 6–5
Zurich A 2R A 1R A QF 1R A A 0 / 4 2–4
Finals reached 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 1 0 N/A 4
Tournaments Won 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 N/A 0
Hardcourt Win-Loss 0–0 7–3 6–6 23-12 11-7 26-13 6–6 18-13 1–3 N/A 98-63
Clay Win-Loss 0–0 0–0 6–3 12-4 13-5 6–5 0–0 6–8 0–2 N/A 43-27
Grass Win-Loss 0–0 0–0 5–1 3–0 6–2 2–2 0–0 0–2 0–0 N/A 16-7
Carpet Win-Loss 1–1 1–2 0–0 2–3 5–5 13-9 4–4 4–1 0–0 N/A 30-25
Overall Win-Loss 1-1 8-5 17-10 40-19 35-19 47-29 10-10 28-24 1-5 N/A 187-122²
Year End Ranking 281 57 32 13 12 8 74 35 305 N/A '''N/A

  • A = did not participate in the tournament
  • SR = the ratio of the number of singles tournaments won to the number of those tournaments played
  • 1 The Moscow tournament achieved Tier I from 1997.
  • ² If ITF women's circuit and Fed Cup participations are included, overall win-loss record stands at 209-129.

Books

  • Anna Kournikova by Susan Holden (2001) (ISBN: 9781842224168 / ISBN-10: 1842224166)
  • Anna Kournikova (Women Who Win) by Connie Berman (2001) (ISBN-10: 0791065294 / ISBN-13: 978-0791065297)

References

External links

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