Sunday, January 3, 2010

Anna Kournikova, the Tennis Enigma


The name of Anna Kournikova still persists within those conversations about Womens tennis that question its popularity, its future, and what methods should be employed to attract more players and sponsors. There have been many incredibly good, record setting women who have added their names to the list of popular athletic tennis players who’s achievements on the tennis courts of the world have done much to popularize the sport, but none can hold a candle to popularity that the beautiful Russian player brought to the game. We often forget that Anna Kournikova was a talented tennis player. She was the ITF World Junior Champion, the European Champion, the youngest player ever, at the age of 14, to win the prestigious Orange Bowl under 18 title. In 1996 she made her debut at the US Open when she was only 15. The tough New York crowd fell in love with her movie star looks, and her career as tennis’s sex symbol was launched. She reached the top ten in singles and was ranked number 1 in doubles, obviously more than just a pretty face! She teamed up with Martina Hingis to win two Grand Slam titles in Australia in 1999 and 2002.

But it was her personal life that captured the imaginations of gossip fans all over the world. She was included in People’s magazines 50 most Beautiful People in the World list 4 years in a row, she was voted the ‘hottest female athlete’ and together with Enrique Iglesias the ‘hottest couple’. Anna is the spokesperson for K-Swiss and can be seen on many of their ads.

In September she showed up for the Nautica Malibu Triathlon held at Zuma Beach Malibu to raise funds for the Los Angeles Children’s Hospital. She won the event! In October she played doubles with Andy Roddick to help raise $400,000 for Sir Elton John’s Aids Foundation. She has not played a WTA tour event since retiring with severe back and spinal problems in 2003, but she is a member of the St. Louis Aces team that plays on the World Team Tennis schedule. She now lives in Miami, and is constantly the target for photographers both professional and amateur. Her sexy pictures are among the most popular on YouTube, and are viewed by millions on a daily basis. Her name has been linked romantically with hockey players, golfers and musicians by the press. Her secret marriage to Enrique Iglesias has led to much speculation about its validity and its reality. The couple are still together, and at last sighting were enjoying their relationship and the intrigue it has caused.

Maybe when Martina Hingis’s ban is lifted the two of them will reunite to defend the doubles titles they won in Australia. Maybe not in 2009 but it could happen in 2010 as both players have toyed with the prospect of returning to active competition on the WTA tour. Win or lose they would certainly make an impact.


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