|About Anna Kournikova
By Cathy Richey, the Cathy Factor
Anna Kournikova was born on June 7, 1981, in Moscow, Russia. She was
an only child.
Anna was encouraged to be involved in sports. Her interest in
playing tennis had grown since she was a child, supported by her
father, Sergei Kournikov. He was a tennis instructor and a professor
at the University of Physical Culture and Sport in Moscow.
Anna received her first tennis racket from her parents for
Christmas at age 5. She then began to play and practice in such
tennis courts as Moscow's Soklniki Park and the upper-class Spartak
Tennis Club coached by the husband of Russian pro Olga Morozova,
despite her parents' modest income. She practiced with her first
tennis coach, Larissa Preobraschenskaja, from 1985 to 1989. She
started appearing in junior competitions regularly and quickly
caught the eye of local tennis scouts.
In 1992, Anna moved to Florida with her mother to sign up with
the renowned Nick Bollettieri's Tennis Academy in Bradenton,
Florida. This academy has produced such tennis legends as Monica
Seles and Andre Agassi. After training at the academy for three
years, Kournikova represented Russia in the Fed Cup 1995 match and
she became the youngest player ever to win the match. She started to
catch spectator's eyes when she triumphed at the European
Championships and Italian Open juniors. In late 1995, Anna ranked
No.1 and was crowned the ITF Junior World Champion.
Anna turned pro in 1996 as the ITF Junior World Champion and
reached the fourth round in her first Grand Slam tournament at the
U.S. Open that year. She also went to the semifinals in her first
Wimbledon appearance in 1997, but was defeated by the final
champion, Steffi Graf, in the 4th round.
1998 was probably Anna's glory year. She was the first Russian
female at the U.S. Open since 1976. She reached the Top 10 of the
singles rankings that year. She also defeated Martina Hingis in the
quarterfinals at the 1998 German Open and became the ninth-youngest
player to defeat a No. 1 tennis player before turning 17 since 1968.
Anna also set a record of the fastest serve at 111.2 mph during the
Paris Indoors match of 1998.
At the 1999 ITF tournament in Midland, Michigan, Kournikova won
her first professional title. She also won her first Grand Slam
doubles title at the 1999 Australian Open with her partner Martina
Hingis. Anna ended the season with a career ranking of No. 8 and
later moved down in the rankings to No. 19.
Anna later tried her hand in acting, appearing as a motel manager in
Jim Carrey's comedy movie Me, Myself & Irene. She was chosen to
appear in Enrique Iglesias' music video for the song "Escape."
Meanwhile, the blonde beauty also branched out into modeling. She
was a model for such product ads as Adidas, Yonex, Berlei and Omega.
Anna Kournikova is probably the only tennis player who has
successfully developed her career beyond the tennis court by
establishing herself in the entertainment industry as well.
Anna was the most photographed woman in sports by 2002. She is
widely recognized not only for her performance on the tennis court
but also for her stunning looks. Blonde-haired, 5' 8" tall
Kournikova was listed as one of People Magazine's "50 Most Beautiful
People" four times, in 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2003. She also posed for
the cover of Sports Illustrated in the June 2000 edition and was
featured in Sports Illustrated in the Swimsuit Edition in 2004.
As for her personal life, Anna was once engaged to NHL star Pavel
Bure of the Florida Panthers. She was rumored to be secretly married
to Spanish singer Enrique Iglesias and was allegedly briefly married
to Russian born NHL hockey player Sergei Federov.
Anna had experienced a stress fracture of her left foot in 2001, but
it was a lower back injury Anna sustained that hindered her
performances on the tennis court. Having never won a major tennis
tournament as of January 2004, Anna retired from professional tennis
in March 2004. Since then she has appeared on several magazine
covers, done modeling, and appeared in television series and shows
including "The View," "Open Access" and "The Apprentice 2."
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