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Anna Kournikova (Russian: Анна Ку́рникова) was born the 7th of June 1981 in Moscow, Russia. She is a retired professional tennis player whose beauty and celebrity made her one of the most visible tennis stars in the world. Even though Kournikova reached No. 8 in the world in 2000, she never won a WTA Title in singles. Her specialty has been doubles and has often been the World No. 1 doubles player. Along with Martina Hingis she won Grand Slam titles in Australia in 1999 and 2002. The doubles team of Kournikova and Hingis referred to themselves as the Spice Girls of Tennis. Kournikova's professional tennis career was cut short, and possibly ended, by serious back and spinal injuries in the past several years. She currently resides in Miami Beach, Florida, and plays in occasional exhibitions and in doubles matches for the St. Louis Aces of World Team Tennis. She was a new trainer for season 12 of the television show The Biggest Loser, replacing Jillian Michaels, but did not return for season 13. In addition to her tennis and television work, Kournikova serves as a Global Ambassador for Population Services International's Five & Alive program, which addresses health crises facing children under the age of five and their families.
Her father, Sergei Kournikov was a former Greco-Roman wrestling champion who had 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 had been a 400-meter runner. Anna got her first tennis racquet as a New Year gift in 1986 when she was 5 years of age. In describing her early tennis 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 a year later was attracting attention from tennis scouts from across the world. Kournikova signed a management contract at age ten and went to Bradenton, Florida, where she trained at Nick Bollettieri's famous tennis academy. Following her move to the United States, Kournikova became prominent on the tennis scene. At 14, she won the European Championships and the Italian Open Junior Tournament. She became the youngest player ever to win the 18 and under division of the Junior Orange Bowl Tennis Tournament. By the end of the year, Kournikova was crowned the ITF Junior World Champion U-18 and Junior European Champion U-18.
In 1994, Kournikova received a wild card into ITF tournament in Moscow qualifications, but lost to third seeded Sabine Appelmans. She debuted in professional tennis at age 14 playing in the Fed Cup for Russia - being the youngest player ever to participate and win. In 1995, she turned professional, and won two ITF titles, in Midland, Michigan and Rockford, Illinois. The same year Kournikova reached her first WTA Tour doubles final at the Kremlin Cup. Partnering with the 1995 Wimbledon girls' champion in both singles and doubles - Aleksandra Olsza, they lost to Meredith McGrath and Larisa Neiland.
In 1996, she started playing under a new coach, Ed Nagel. Her six year tenure with Ed would produce terrific results. At 15, she made her grand slam debut, when she reached the fourth round of the 1996 US Open, only to be stopped by the top ranked player Steffi Graf - who became the eventual champion. After this tournament, Kournikova's ranking jumped from No. 144 to debut in the Top 100 at No. 69. 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 and she was ranked No. 57 in the end of the season.
Kournikova entered the 1997 Australian Open as World No. 67, where she lost in the first round to World No. 12 Amanda Coetzer. At the Italian Open, Kournikova lost to Amanda Coetzer in the second round. However, she reached the semifinals in the doubles partnering with Elena Likhovtseva, before losing to the sixth seeds Mary Joe Fernández and Patricia Tarabini. At the 1997 French Open, Kournikova made it to the third round before losing to World No. 1 ranked Martina Hingis. She also reached the third round in doubles with Likhovtseva. At the 1997 Wimbledon Championships, Kournikova became only the second woman in the open era to reach the semifinals in her Wimbledon debut, the first being Chris Evert in 1972. There she lost to eventual champion Martina Hingis.
At the 1997 US Open, she lost in the second round to the eleventh seed Irina Spîrlea. Partnering with Likhovtseva, she reached the third round of the women's doubles event. Kournikova played her last WTA Tour event of 1997 at Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Filderstadt, losing to Amanda Coetzer in the second round of singles, and in the first round of doubles to Lindsay Davenport and Jana Novotná partnering with Likhovtseva. She broke into the top 50 on 19 May, and was ranked No. 32 in singles and No. 41 in doubles at the end of the season.
In 1998, Kournikova broke into the WTA's top 20 rankings for the first time, when she was ranked No. 16. At the 1998 Australian Open, Kournikova lost in the third round to World No. 1 player Martina Hingis. She also partnered with Larisa Neiland in women's doubles, and they lost to eventual champions Hingis and Mirjana Lučić in the second round. Although she lost in the second round of the Paris Open to Anke Huber in singles, Kournikova reached her second doubles WTA Tour final, partnering with Larisa Neiland. They lost to Sabine Appelmans and Miriam Oremans. Kournikova and Neiland reached their second consecutive final at the Linz Open, losing to Alexandra Fusai and Nathalie Tauziat. At the Miami Open, Kournikova reached her first WTA Tour singles final, before losing to Venus Williams in the final.
At the 1998 French Open Kournikova had her best result at this particular tournament, progressing to the fourth round before losing to Jana Novotná. She also reached her first Grand Slam doubles semifinals, losing with Neiland to Lindsay Davenport and Natasha Zvereva. During her quarterfinals match at the grass-court Eastbourne Open versus Steffi Graf, Kournikova injured her thumb, which would eventually force her to withdraw from the 1998 Wimbledon Championships. However, she won that match, but then withdraw from her semifinals match against Arantxa Sánchez Vicario. Kournikova returned for the Du Maurier Open and made it to the third round, before losing to Conchita Martínez.
At the 1998 US Open Kournikova reached the fourth round before losing to Arantxa Sánchez Vicario. Her strong year of play qualified her for the year-end 1998 WTA Tour Championships, but she lost to Monica Seles in the first round. However, with Seles, she won her first WTA doubles title, in Tokyo, beating Mary Joe Fernández and Arantxa Sánchez Vicario in the final. At the end of the season, she was ranked No. 10 in doubles. At the start of the 1999 season, Kournikova advanced to the fourth round in singles before losing to Mary Pierce. However, Kournikova won her first doubles Grand Slam title, partnering Martina Hingis.
The two defeated Lindsay Davenport and Natasha Zvereva in the final. At the Tier I Family Circle Cup, Kournikova reached her second WTA Tour final, but lost to Martina Hingis. She then defeated Jennifer Capriati, Lindsay Davenport and Patty Schnyder on her route to the Bausch & Lomb Championships semifinals, losing to Ruxandra Dragomir. At The French Open, Kournikova reached the fourth round before losing to eventual champion Steffi Graf. Once the grass-court season started in England, Kournikova lost to Nathalie Tauziat in the semifinals in Eastbourne. At Wimbledon, Kournikova lost to Venus Williams in the fourth round. She also reached the final in mixed doubles, partnering with Jonas Björkman, but they lost to Leander Paes and Lisa Raymond. Kournikova again qualified for year-end WTA Tour Championships, but lost to Mary Pierce in the first round, and ended the season as World No. 12 in the rankings.
While Kournikova had a successful singles season, she was even more successful in doubles. After their victory at the Australian Open, she and Martina Hingis won tournaments in Indian Wells, Rome, Eastbourne and the WTA Tour Championshiops, and reached the final of The French Open where they lost to Serena and Venus Williams. Partnering with Elena Likhovtseva, Kournikova also reached the final in Stanford. On 22 November 1999 she reached the World No. 1 ranking in doubles, and ended the season at this ranking. Anna Kournikova and Martina Hingis were presented with the WTA Award for Doubles Team of the Year.
Kournikova opened her 2000 season winning the Gold Coast Open doubles tournament partnering with Julie Halard. She then reached the singles semifinals at the Medibank International Sydney, losing to Lindsay Davenport. At the 2000 Australian Open, she reached the fourth round in singles and the semifinals in doubles. That season, Kournikova reached eight semifinals - Sydney, Scottsdale, Stanford, San Diego, Luxembourg, Leipzig and 2000 WTA Tour Championships, seven quarterfinals - Gold Coast, Tokyo, Amelia Island, Hamburg, Eastbourne, Zürich and Philadelphia and one final. On 20 November 2000 she broke into top 10 for the first time, reaching No. 8. She was also ranked No. 4 in doubles at the end of the season. She reached the final of the 2000 US Open in mixed doubles, partnering with Max Mirnyi, but they lost to Jared Palmer and Arantxa Sánchez Vicario. She also won six doubles titles – Gold Coast with Julie Halard, Hamburg with Natasha Zvereva, Filderstadt, Zürich, Philadelphia and the 2000 WTA Tour Championships with Martina Hingis.
Her 2001 season was dominated by injury, including a left foot stress fracture which forced her withdrawal from twelve tournaments, including the French Open and Wimbledon. She underwent surgery in April. She reached her second career grand slam quarterfinals, at the Australian Open. Kournikova then withdrew from several events due to continuing problems with her left foot and did not return until Leipzig. With Barbara Schett, she won the doubles title in Sydney. She then lost in the finals in Tokyo, partnering with Iroda Tulyaganova, and at San Diego, partnering with Martina Hingis. Hingis and Kournikova also won the Kremlin Cup. At the end of the 2001 season, she was ranked No. 74 in singles and No. 26 in doubles.
Kournikova was quite successful in 2002. She reached the semifinals of Auckland, Tokyo, Acapulco and San Diego, and the finals of China Open, losing to Anna Smashnova. This was Kournikova's last singles finals. With Martina Hingis, Anna Kournikova lost in the finals of Sydney, but they won their second grand slam title together, the Australian Open in women's doubles. They also lost in the quarterfinals of the US Open. With Chanda Rubin, Anna Kournikova played the semifinals of Wimbledon, but they lost to Serena and Venus Williams. Partnering Janet Lee, she won the Shanghai title. At the end of 2002 season, she was ranked No. 35 in singles and No. 11 in doubles.
In 2003, Anna Kournikova collected her first grand slam match victory in two years at the Australian Open. She defeated Henrieta Nagyová in the 1st round, and then lost to Justine Henin-Hardenne in the 2nd round. She withdrew from Tokyo due to a sprained back suffered at the Australian Open and did not return to Tour until Miami. Kournikova retired in the 1st round of the Family Circle Cup in Charleston, South Carolina, due to a left adductor strain. She reached the semifinals at the ITF tournament in Sea Island, before withdrawing from a match versus Maria Sharapova due to the adductor injury. She lost in the 1st round of the ITF tournament in Charlottesville. She did not compete for the rest of the season due to a continuing back injury.
At the end of the 2003 season marking the end of her professional career, she was ranked No. 305 in singles and No. 176 in doubles. 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. 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 US 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 - with her career high singles ranking at 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. 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, Andy 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, California. The Race raised funds for children's Hospital Los Angeles. She won that race for the women's K-Swiss team. On 27 September 2008, Kournikova played exhibition mixed doubles matches in Charlotte, North Carolina, partnering with Tim Wilkison and Karel Nováček. Kournikova and Wilkison defeated Jimmy Arias and Chanda Rubin, and then Kournikova and Novacek defeated Rubin and Wilkison. On 12 October 2008, Anna Kournikova played one exhibition match for the annual charity event, hosted by Billie Jean King and Elton John, and raised more than $400,000 for the Elton John AIDS Foundation and Atlanta AIDS Partnership Fund.
She played doubles with Andy Roddick (they were coached by David Chang) versus Martina Navratilova and Jesse Levine (coached by Billie Jean King); Kournikova and Roddick won. Kournikova competed alongside John McEnroe, Tracy Austin and Jim Courier at the "Legendary Night", which was held on 2 May 2009, at the Turning Stone Event Center, Verona, New York. The exhibition included a mixed doubles match of McEnroe and Austin against Courier and Kournikova. In 2008, she was named a spokesperson for K-Swiss. In 2005, Kournikova stated that if she were 100% fit, she would like to come back and compete again. In June 2010, Kournikova reunited with her doubles partner Martina Hingis to participate in competitive tennis for the first time in seven years in the Invitational Ladies Doubles event at Wimbledon. On 29 June 2010 they defeated the British pair Samantha Smith and Anne Hobbs.
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 plays right-handed with a two-handed backhand. She is a great player at the net and 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.
Kournikova was in a relationship with fellow Russian, Pavel Bure, an NHL ice hockey player. The two met in 1999 when Kournikova was still linked to Bure's former Russian teammate Sergei Fedorov. Bure and Kournikova were reported to have been engaged in 2000 after a reporter took a photo of them together in a Florida restaurant where Bure supposedly asked Kournikova to marry him. As the story made headlines in Russia, where they were both heavily followed in the media as celebrities, Bure and Kournikova both denied any engagement. Kournikova, 10 years younger than Bure, was 18 years old at the time. The following year, Kournikova and Fedorov were married in Moscow.
They were soon divorced, however. Fedorov claimed he and Kournikova were married in 2001, but later divorced in 2003. Kournikova's representatives deny any marriage to Fedorov; however, Fedorov's agent Pat Brisson claims that although he does not know when they got married, he knew "Fedorov was married". Kournikova started dating pop star Enrique Iglesias in late 2001 (she appeared in his video, "Escape"), and rumors that the couple had secretly married circulated in 2003 and again in 2005. Kournikova herself has consistently refused to directly confirm or deny 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 of marrying Kournikova and settling 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. In an interview with Graham Norton in 2010, Kournikova confirmed that she and Iglesias have been together for over eight years but have no plans to marry in the near future. Kournikova and Iglesias have been in a long term relationship for 10 years now. Enrique and Anna have invested in a $20 million home to be built on a private island in Miami. Kournikova resides in Miami Beach, Florida. She put her seven-bedroom, waterfront property in Bayshore on the market in May 2011.
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 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 the 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. In May 2011, it was announced that Kournikova would join The Biggest Loser as a regular celebrity trainer in season 12, but she will not be returning 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.