"It's true I always try to be as seductive as possible but I wouldn't be here if I couldn't play tennis." Anna Kournikova
Russian tennis player Anna Kournikova first received notice while playing in the Federation Cup at age 14 and reaching the fourth round in her first U.S. Open (1996) at age 15. Discovered by IMG Agents in the Kremlin Cup in Moscow at age 9, Anna has since won many tournaments, including the Orange Bowl and the Italian Open, as well as becoming the Junior European Champion and Junior World Champion (all in 1995). She reached the semi-finals of Wimbledon in 1997 and won her first Grand Slam title, a doubles triumph with Martina Hingis, at the Australian Open in 1999. In 2004, Anna retired from professional tennis after suffering from a chronic back injury.
Anna Kournikova is widely recognized not only for her performance on the tennis court but also for her stunning looks. Blonde-haired, 5' 8" tall Anna 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's June 2000 edition and was featured in Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Edition in 2004. The Sexiest Woman in the World, according to FHM Magazine (2002, American edition), Anna splashed across the screen in the 2000 film Me, Myself and Irene, starring Jim Carrey.
"I have a lot of boyfriends. I want you to write that. Every country I visit, I have a different boyfriend. And I kiss them all." Anna Kournikova
On a more personal note, Anna was once engaged to NHL star Pavel Bure (born on March 31, 1971) of the Florida Panthers. She was recently rumored to be secretly married to Spanish singer Enrique Iglesias and was allegedly briefly married to NHL hockey player Sergei Federov.
Childhood and Family:
The only child of Sergei (a lecturer at the sports university in Moscow and a part-time tennis coach) and Alla Kournikova, Anya Kournikova was born on June 7, 1981, in Moscow, Russia. During her upbringing, she attended a Russian high school and graduated in 1997, then enrolled at the Physical Culture Russian University.
In late 2004, Anna reportedly was getting married secretly to boyfriend, Spanish singer Enrique Iglesias (born on May 8, 1975), in a Mexico ceremony in Puerto Vallerta. She was also allegedly briefly married to NHL hockey player Sergei Federov in 2001.
Anna received the nickname Murzik, which means "my little pet" in Russian. She likes to collect dolls from every country she visits and loves to eat Japanese Sushi. Currently, the most beautiful woman on the tennis court resides in Miami, Florida, in the United States.
On and Off Court
"I'm like a menu at an expensive restaurant. You can look at me, but you can't afford me." Anna Kournikova
The only child of a Russian part-time tennis coach, Anna Kornikova 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 high-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 and started appearing in junior competitions and quickly caught the eye of local tennis scouts.
"I found my first racquets under the Christmas tree, but I found out later that my parents sold one of their TVs to get me those racquets." Anna Kournikova (on her early years).
In 1992, Anna moved to Florida with her mother to sign up with the renowned Nick Bollettieri's Tennis Academy in Bradenton, which has produced such tennis legends as Monica Seles and Andre Agassi. After training in the academy for three years, Anna represented Russia in a Fed Cup (1995) match and 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, she ranked No. 1 and was crowned as ITF Junior World Champion.
"Anna is a shot maker. She has the ability to create situations on the court that very few people can create. And at the net she's brilliant. She hits volleys from all angles. The only person I could compare her to is John McEnroe." Nick Bollettieri
Anna turned pro in 1996 as an ITF Junior World Champion and reached the fourth round in her first Grand Slam tournament, the U.S. Open that year. She also went to the semifinals in her first Wimbledon appearance in 1997, falling to 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 and reached the Top 10 of the singles rankings. She also beat 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). Moreover, she made the fastest serve at 111.2 mph during the Paris Indoors of 1998.
At the 1999 ITF tournament at Midland, Michigan, Anna won her first professional title. She also won her first Grand Slam doubles title at the 1999 Australian Open with partner Martina Hingis.
Anna ended the millennium season with a career ranking of No. 8 and later moved down the rankings to No. 19. She also tried her hand in acting, appearing as a motel manager in Jim Carrey's starring comedy movie Me, Myself & Irene. Additionally, she starred 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. The most photographed woman in sports by 2002, Anna was showcased on the cover of Sports Illustrated's June 2000 edition and was featured in Sports Illustrated 40th Anniversary Swimsuit Special: American Beauty in 2004.
A lower back injury Anna sustained has hindered her performances on the 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 TV series and shows including "The View," "Open Access" and "The Apprentice 2."
"I'm beautiful, famous and gorgeous." Anna Kournikova