Anna Kournikova

70

Anna Kournikova : biography

7 June 1981 –

Kournikova resides in Miami Beach, Florida.

Career statistics and awards

  • 1996: WTA Newcomer of the Year
  • 1999: WTA Doubles Team of the Year (with Martina Hingis)

Media publicity

Most of Kournikova’s fame has come from the publicity surrounding her looks and her personal life. During Kournikova’s debut at the 1996 US Open at the age of 15, the western 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 "only the ball should bounce" billboard campaign. Following that, she was cast by the Farrelly brothers for a minor role in the 2000 film Me, Myself & Irene starring Jim Carrey and Renée Zellweger. Photographs of her scantily clad form have appeared in various men’s magazines, including one in the much-publicized 2004 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, where she posed in bikinis and swimsuits, and in other men’s publications such as FHM and Maxim. Kournikova was named one of People’s 50 Most Beautiful People in 1998 and was voted "hottest female athlete" on ESPN.com. In 2002 she also placed first in FHM’s 100 Sexiest Women in the World in US 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 No. 1 in the ESPN Classic series "Who’s number 1?" when the series featured sport’s most overrated athletes.

She continued to be the most searched athlete on the Internet through 2008 even though she had retired from the professional tennis circuit years earlier. After slipping from first to sixth among athletes in 2009, she moved back up to third place among athletes in terms of search popularity in 2010.

In October 2010, Kournikova headed to NBC’s The Biggest Loser where she led the contestants in a tennis-workout challenge., peoplestar.co.uk, Retrieved on 1 October 2010. In May 2011, it was announced that Kournikova would join The Biggest Loser as a regular celebrity trainer in season 12. She did not return for season 13.

In November 2010, she became an American citizen. In 2011, Men’s Health named her one of the "100 Hottest Women of All-Time", ranking her at No. 29.

Early life

Anna Kournikova was born in Moscow, Soviet Union, on 7 June 1981. Her father, Sergei Kournikov (born 1961), a former Greco-Roman wrestling champion, eventually earned a PhD 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 (born 1963) had been a 400-meter runner.

Sergei Kournikov has 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 transliteration would be "Kurnikov", and it is sometimes written that way. But it is pronounced "Kournikov", so the family chose that as their English spelling.

Kournikova received her first tennis racquet as a New Year gift in 1986 at age 5. Describing her early regimen, she said, "I played two times a week from age six. 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." In 1986, Kournikova became a member of the Spartak Tennis Club, coached by Larissa Preobrazhenskaya. In 1989, at the age of eight, Kournikova began appearing in junior tournaments, and by the following year, was attracting attention from tennis scouts across the world. Kournikova signed a management deal at age ten and went to Bradenton, Florida, to train at Nick Bollettieri’s celebrated tennis academy.