Anna Sergeyevna Kournikova (Russian:
Анна Сергеевна Ку́рникова; born 7 June 1981) is a Russian professional
tennis player and model. Her celebrity status made her one of the best
known tennis players worldwide. At the peak of her fame, fans looking for
images of Kournikova made her name one of the most common search strings
on the Internet search engine Google.
Although also successful in singles, reaching No. 8 in the world in 2000,
Kournikova's specialty has been doubles, where she has at times been the
World No. 1 player. With Martina Hingis as her partner, she won Grand Slam
titles in Australia in 1999 and 2002. Kournikova's professional tennis
career has been curtailed for the past several years, and possibly ended,
by serious back and spinal problems. She currently resides in Miami Beach,
Florida, and plays in occasional exhibitions and in doubles for the St.
Louis Aces of World Team Tennis.
Anna was born in Moscow, Soviet Union, on 7 June 1981. Her father, Sergei
Kournikov was 20 at the time. Sergei, a former Greco-Roman wrestling
champion, had earned a Ph.D 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, a sturdily built blonde
who was 18 when Anna was born, had been a 400-metre runner.
Sergei 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 translation would be
"Kurnikova", and it is sometimes written that way. But it is pronounced
"Kournikova", so the family chose that as their English spelling.
Anna received her first tennis racquet as a New Year gift in 1986 at age
5. Anna says: "I played two times a week from age five. 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, Anna became a member of the
prestigious Spartak Tennis Club, coached by Larissa Preobrazhenskaya. In
1989, at the age of eight, Anna began appearing in junior tournaments, and
by the following year, was attracting attention from tennis scouts across
the world. Anna signed a management deal at age ten and went to Bradenton,
Florida to train at Nick Bollettieri's celebrated tennis academy.
Following her arrival in the United States, Anna exploded onto the tennis
scene, making her the internationally recognized tennis star she is today.
At the age of 14, she went on to win the European Championships and the
Italian Open Junior tournament. Anna also beat out the competition to win
the prestigious Junior Orange Bowl, becoming the youngest player ever to
win the 18 and under division at that tournament. By the end of the year,
Anna was crowned the ITF Junior World Champion U-18 and Junior European
In 1994, Anna Kournikova received a wild card into ITF tournament in
Moscow qualifications, but lost to the third seed Sabine Appelmans. She
debuted in professional tennis at age 14 in the Fed Cup for Russia, the
youngest player ever to participate and win. In 1995, she turned pro, 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 1995 Wimbledon girls' champion in both singles and
doubles Aleksandra Olsza, she lost to Meredith McGrath and Larisa Neiland
with 6–0, 6–1.
At age 15, she made her grand slam debut, when she reached the fourth
round of the 1996 U.S. Open, only to be stopped by then-top ranked player,
Steffi Graf, eventual champion. After this tournament, her ranking jumped
from No. 144 to debut in 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. However, she
lost in the first round to World No. 12 Amanda Coetzer 6–2, 6–2. She also
partnered with Russian fellow Elena Likhovtseva at women's doubles event,
but also lost in the first round, to eight seeds Chanda Rubin and Brenda
Schultz-McCarthy 6–2, 6–3. Kournikova reached the second round at the
Pacific Life Open; after beating Patricia Hy-Boulais in the first round
1–6, 6–1, 6–4, she lost to World No. 3 Anke Huber in the second round 3–6,
6–2, 6–2. In doubles, Kournikova and Likhovtseva beat the second seeds
Larisa Neiland and Helena Suková in the second 7–5, 4–6, 6–3, before
losing to Mary Joe Fernández and Chanda Rubin in the quartefinals 2–6,
6–4, 7–5/. At Miami Open Kournikova defeated No. 12 Amanda Coetzer 6–1,
3–6, 6–3 in the second round, and No. 29 Katarina Studenikova 1–6, 6–4,
6–0 in the third, and then lost to No. 3 Jana Novotná 6–3, 6–4 in the
fourth. She and Likhovtseva were beaten 6–4, 6–3 by Dominique Monami and
Barbara Rittner in the first round of Miami doubles. After beating
Shi-Ting Wang in the first round of Italian Open with 6–3, 6–4, Kournikova
lost to Amanda Coetzer 6–2, 4–6, 6–1 in the second. However, she reached
the semifinals partnering with Likhovtseva, after they defeated the first
seeds Neiland and Suková 6(4)–7, 6–2, 7–5 in the second round, and Barbara
Schett and Patty Schnyder 7–6(2), 6–4 in the third, before losing to the
sixth seeds Mary Joe Fernández and Patricia Tarabini 7–6(5), 6–3.
Kournikova was then defeated in the quarterfinals of German Open by Mary
Joe Fernández 6–1, 6–4, after she defeated former World No. 1 and current
World No. 5 Arantxa Sánchez Vicario 3–6, 6–0, 6–3 in the third round.
Partnering with Likhovtseva, she also reached the doubles quarterfinals,
beating the sixth seeds Alexandra Fusai and Nathalie Tauziat 6–4, 7–6(2)
in the second round and losing to the first seeds Gigi Fernández and
Natasha Zvereva 6–2, 7–5. At the 1997 French Open Kournikova defeated
Radka Zrubáková 6–3, 6–2 in the first round and Sandra Cecchini 6–2, 6–2
in the second and then lost to World No. 1 Martina Hingis 6–1, 6–3 in the
third. She also reached the third round in doubles with Likhovtseva,
losing to domestic team and the eight seeds Fusai and Tauziat. At 1997
Wimbledon Championships Anna Kournikova became the only second woman in
the open era to reach the semifinals, which was also her first WTA Tour
semifinals, in her Wimbledon debut, the first being Chris Evert in 1972.
She defeated Chanda Rubin 6–1, 6–1 in the first round, Barbara Rittner
4–6, 7–6(7), 6–3 in the second, the seventh seed Anke Huber 3–6, 6–4, 6–4
in the third, Helena Suková 2–6, 6–2, 6–3 in the fourth, No. 4 and the
French Open champion Iva Majoli 7–6(1), 6–4 in the quarterfinals and then
lost to eventual champion Martina Hingis by a score of 6–3, 6–2.
Kournikova then lost to Anke Huber 6–0, 6–1 in the first round of the Los
Angeles Open, also reaching the doubles semifinals with Ai Sugiyama. At
the 1997 US Open she lost in the second round to the eleventh seed Irina
Spîrlea 6–1, 3–6, 6–3. Partnering with Likhovtseva, she reached the third
round of women's doubles event, losing 6–4, 6–4 to the second seeds Hingis
and Sánchez Vicario. Kournikova played her last WTA Tour event in 1997 at
Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Filderstadt, losing to Amanda Coetzer 3–6 6–3
6–4 in the second round of singles, and 6–2, 6–4 in the first round of
doubles to Lindsay Davenport and Jana Novotná 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. She also scored impressive victories
over Martina Hingis, Lindsay Davenport, Steffi Graf and Monica Seles.
Kournikova began her 1998 season in Hannover, where she lost to the first
seed Jana Novotná in the semifinals with 6–3, 6–3. She also partnered
Larisa Neiland in doubles, and lost to Elena Likhovtseva and Caroline Vis
in the quarterfinals 3–6, 6–2, 7–5. She then reached the second round of
both singles and doubles at the Medibank International in Sidney, losing
to Lindsay Davenport in the second round of singles with 6–2, 6(4)–7, 6–3.
At the 1998 Australian Open Kournikova lost in the third round to World
No. 1 player Martina Hingis 6–4, 4–6, 6–4. She also partnered with Larisa
Neiland in women's doubles, and they lost to eventual champions Hingis and
Mirjana Lučić 7–5, 6–2 in the second round. Although she lost in the
second round of Paris Open to Anke Huber in singles, Kournikova reached
the her second doubles WTA Tour final partnering with Larisa Neiland. They
lost to Sabine Appelmans and Miriam Oremans 1–6, 6–3, 7–6(3). Kournikova
and Neiland reached their second consecutive final at Linz Open, losing to
Alexandra Fusai and Nathalie Tauziat 6–3, 3–6, 6–4. In singles, Kournikova
reached the third round. At the Pacific Life Open, she reached the third
round and lost to 1994 Wimbledon champion Conchita Martínez 6–3, 6–4, and
also reached the doubles quarterfinals with Neiland. Although she reached
the doubles quarterfinals with Neiland, Kournikova made a greater success
in singles at the Miami Open, reaching her first WTA Tour singles final.
After beating Mirjana Lučić 6–4, 6–2 in the first round, former World No.
1 Monica Seles 7–5, 6–4 in the second, Conchita Martínez 6–3, 6–0 in the
third, Lindsay Davenport 6–4, 2–6, 6–2 in the quarterfinals, and former
No. 1 Arantxa Sánchez Vicario 3–6, 6–1, 6–3 in the semifinals, and then
lost to Venus Williams in the final with 2–6, 6–4, 6–1.
Kournikova then reached two consecutive quarterfinals, at Amelia Island
and Italian Open, losing, respectively, 7–5, 6–3 to Lindsay Davenport, and
6–2, 6–4 to Martina Hingis. At the German Open, she reached the semifinals
in both singles and doubles, with Larisa Neiland, losing 6–0, 6–1 to
Conchita Martínez and 6–1, 6–4 to Alexandra Fusai and Nathalie Tauziat,
respectively. At the 1998 French Open Kournikova reached her best result
at this tournament, losing to Jana Novotná 6(2)–7, 6–3, 6–3 in the fourth
round. She also reached her first grand slam doubles semifinals, losing
with Neiland to Lindsay Davenport and Natasha Zvereva 6–3, 6–2. During her
quarterfinals match at the 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 6(4)–7, 6–3,
6–4, but then withdraw from her semifinals match against Arantxa Sánchez
Vicario. Kournikova returned for the Du Maurier Open, defeating Alexandra
Fusai and Ruxandra Dragomir before losing to Conchita Martínez in the
third round 6–0, 6–3. At the Pilot Pen Tennis in New Haven she lost to
Amanda Coetzer 1–6, 6–4, 7–5 in the second round. At the 1998 US Open
Kournikova reached the fourth round and lost to Arantxa Sánchez Vicario.
She then made a series of low results at Toyota Princess Cup, Porsche
Tennis Grand Prix, Zürich Open and Kremlin Cup, but due to good results
during the year, she qualified for the 1998 WTA Tour Championships. She
lost to Monica Seles in the first round 6–4, 6–3. However, with Seles, she
won her first doubles title, in Tokyo, beating Mary Joe Fernández and
Arantxa Sánchez Vicario 6–4, 6–4 in the final. At the end of the season,
she was ranked No. 10 in doubles.
Kournikova began her 1999 season at Adidas Open, where she lost to
Dominique Van Roost in the second round. She then played at the Australian
Open, losing to Mary Pierce 6–0, 6–4 in the fourth round. However,
Kournikova won her first doubles grand slam title, partnering Martina
Hingis. The two defeated Lindsay Davenport and Natasha Zvereva in the
final. Kournikova then lost in the quarterfinals of Toray Pan Pacific Open
to Monica Seles 7–5, 6–3. In Oklahoma City she was defeated by Amanda
Coetzer 6–4, 6–2 in the semifinals, by Silvia Farina Elia in the first
round of Evert Cup, and by Barbara Schett at Lipton Championships. At Tier
I Family Circle Cup, Kournikova reached her second WTA Tour final, but
lost to Martina Hingis 6–4, 6–3. She then defeated Jennifer Capriati,
Lindsay Davenport and Patty Schnyder on her route to the Bausch & Lomb
Championships semifinals, losing to Ruxandra Dragomir 6–3, 7–5. After
round robin results at Italian Open and German Open, Kournikova reached
the fourth round of 1999 French Open, losing to eventual champion Steffi
Graf 6–3, 7–6. She then lost to Nathalie Tauziat 6–4, 4–6, 8–6 in the
semifinals in Eastbourne. At 1999 Wimbledon Championships, Kournikova lost
to Venus Williams in the fourth round 3–6, 6–3, 6–2. She also reached the
1999 Wimbledon final in mixed doubles, partnering with Jonas Björkman, but
they lost to Leander Paes and Lisa Raymond 6–4, 3–6, 6–3. Kournikova
qualified for 1999 WTA Tour Championships, but lost to Mary Pierce 6(3)–7,
7–6(5), 6–0 in the first round, and ended the season as World No. 12. Also
at times during 1999, she was the most searched athlete in the world on
Yahoo!, the premier search engine of the day. Kournikova was more
successful in doubles that season. After their victory at the Australian
Open, she and Martina Hingis won tournaments in Indian Wells, Rome,
Eastbourne and 1999 WTA Tour Championships, and reached the final of 1999
French Open, where they lost to Serena and Venus Williams 3–6, 7–6(2),
6–8. Partnering with Elena Likhovtseva, Kournikova also reached the final
in Stanford. On 22 November 1999 she reached 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 partnering
with Julie Halard. She then reached the singles semifinals at Medibank
International Sydney, losing to Lindsay Davenport 6–3, 6–2. At the 2000
Australian Open, she reached the fourth round in singles and the
semifinals in doubles. Partnering with Barbara Schett, they lost to Lisa
Raymond and Rennae Stubbs. 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. Despite being a domestic player, Kournikova lost to Martina Hingis
6–3, 6–1 in the final of Kremlin Cup. On 20 November 2000 she finally
broke into top 10 for the first time, reaching No. 8. She was also ranked
#4 in doubles at the end of the season. Kournikova was, once again, more
successful in doubles. 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 6–4, 6–3. 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
This 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 #74 in singles and #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 6–2, 6–3 to Anna Smashnova. This was Kournikova's last singles
finals and the last chance to win a single title. With Martina Hingis,
Anna Kournikova lost in the finals of Sydney, but they won their second
grand slam title together, Australian Open in women's doubles. They also
lost in the quarterfinals of U.S. 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 Shangai title. At the end of
2002 season, she was ranked #35 in singles and #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 Australian Open and
did not return to Tour until Miami. Kournikova retired in the 1st round of
the Charleston 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 and her professional career, she was ranked #305 in singles
and #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, with whom she played frequently starting in 1999. 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 U.S. 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 (her career high singles ranking was 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. As a personality Kournikova was among the most common
search strings for both articles and images in her prime. She continues to
be the most searched athlete in the world.
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 women's K-Swiss
team. On 27 September 2008, Kournikova played exhibition matches in
Charlotte, North Carolina; she played two mixed doubles matches. She
partnered Tim Wilkison and Karel Novacek. Kournikova and Wilkinson
defeated Jimmy Arias and Chanda Rubin, and then Kournikova and Novacek
defeated Chanda Rubin and Tim Wilkison.
On 12 October 2008, Anna Kournikova played one exhibitional match for the
annual charity event, hosted by Billie Jean King and Sir Elton John,
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 Sir Elton John) versus Martina Navratilova and Jesse Levine
(coached by Billie Jean King); Kournikova and Roddick won 5–4(3).
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, NY. The legendary night of tennis consisted of a
grudge match between McEnroe and Courier in singles followed by a mixed
doubles match of McEnroe and Austin against Courier and Kournikova.
She is the current K-Swiss spokesperson. In a feature for ELLE magazine's
July 2005 issue, Kournikova stated that if she were 100% fit, she would
like to come back and compete again.
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 holds her racket in her right hand but uses both hands when she
plays backhand shots. She is a good player at the net. 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's marital status has been an issue on several occasions. There
were conflicting rumors about whether she was engaged to ice hockey player
Pavel Bure. There were reports that she married NHL ice hockey star Sergei
Fedorov in 2001. Kournikova's representatives have denied this, but
Fedorov stated in 2003 that the couple had married and since divorced.
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.
Enrique has stated in interviews after that it was simply a joke, and they
are still very much together.
Kournikova has a younger brother, Allan. She became an American citizen in
Most of Kournikova's fame has come from the publicity surrounding her
personal life, as well as numerous modeling shoots. During Kournikova's
debut at the 1996 U.S. 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 highly successful "only the ball should bounce"
billboard campaign. 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 popular men's publications such as FHM and Maxim. Kournikova was
named one of People's 50 Most Beautiful People in 1998, 2000, 2002, and
2003 and was voted "hottest female athlete" and "hottest couple" (with
Iglesias) on ESPN.com. In 2002 she also placed first in FHM's 100 Sexiest
Women in the World in U.S. 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 #1 in the ESPN Classic series "Who's
number 1?" when the series featured sport's most overrated athletes.
Anna's popularity has extended into Texas Hold 'em lingo, where the hole
cards Ace-King are sometimes referred to as an "Anna Kournikova," not only
because the hand shares the AK initials with the tennis star, but also
because the hand has the reputation of not playing well. It is said that a
Kournikova hand "looks really good, but rarely wins."