2 minute read

Anna Kournikova

Off-court Headlines

Kournikova ended 1999 with a number one in doubles. A year later she finished number eight, her first top 10 singles ranking. Her beauty and success were magnets for sponsors. She pitched brokerages and dot-com companies on television. By then, her personal life had also made big headlines. She was romantically linked to Russian-born hockey stars Sergei Federov and Pavel Bure. She was also linked to musician Enrique Iglesias, with whom she made a video. Some observers say her off-court distractions hurt her game, although an injured left foot has also troubled her. Her record in singles matches in 2002 was only 28-24.

"I do think someday she will hate herself for not giving tennis her best shot," ESPN.com's Chris McKendry wrote. "I don't think Kournikova is a fraud or the product of PR packaging. I do think she's a lucky winner of the 'birth lottery'—born beautiful and athletic—and that's not her fault. But she is to blame for underachieving." McKendry added: "So when exactly did Kournikova become less of a tennis player and more of a pop icon?


1981 Born in Moscow, Russia
1986 Began playing tennis in a weekly children's program
1992-97 Trained at tennis professional Nick Bollettieri's camp in Bradenton, Florida
1995 Made professional tennis debut at age 14
1997 Broke from coach Bollettieri
2000 Plays French Open on badly injured ankle, against doctors' advice
2000 Makes cameo appearance in Me, Myself & Irene, a motion picture starring Jim Carrey
2001 Suffers stress fracture of left foot
2001 Appears in Enrique Iglesias' video "Escape."
2002 Settles out of court with Penthouse magazine over publication of topless photos on a beach; photos were not of Kournikova
2002 Thirty-minute feature: A Date With Anna: The Making of the Anna Kournikova Calendar airs on ESPN/ESPN2

Awards and Accomplishments

1996 Reached fourth round of U.S. Open
1996 Improved world ranking 224 spots, to No. 57
1997 Reached Wimbledon singles semifinals in her fourth Grand Slam tournament, losing to eventual champion Martina Hingis
1998 Upset Hingis, then ranked No. 1, in German Open quarterfinals; defeated No. 5 Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in same tournament and rose to 13th place
1999 Wins Australian Open doubles championship with Hingis
2000 One of five female tennis players named to Forbes magazine Power 100 in Fame and Fortune list at No. 58
2002 FHM Magazine names her sexiest woman of the year, an award usually reserved for fashion models

In 2001, Kournikova reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open. Then came the stress fracture and, although she withdrew from the year's other major tournaments, she did not withdraw from public life. That decision has proven to be costly. Fair or not, it looked as though she did not care to be on the court. She attracted flashbulbs everywhere she went, making headlines with her latest beaus, and making a music video with one steady, Enrique Iglesias. "Smooching and rolling around with the singer in his 'Escape' video sent Kournikova's negative public image—and the media—over the top. This season, back from injury, Kournikova's life, not her tennis, became topic No. 1 … and only."

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsTennisAnna Kournikova Biography - Bollettieri Protege, Wimbledon Semifinalist, Off-court Headlines, Chronology, Awards And Accomplishments, Seles Defends Her - SELECTED WRITINGS BY KOURNIKOVA: