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Anna Kournikova

Born in Russia on 7th June 1981 to parents Alla and Sergei Kournikova, Anna received her first tennis racquet as her Christmas resent when she was 5. Later, like her compatriot Elena Dementieva, Kournikova became a member of the Spartak Tennis Club where she received coaching and training. At the age of 9, Anna played in the junior event of the Kremlin Cup, and impressed so much that she was later offered a place at the famous Nick Bollettieri's Tennis Academy in Florida, USA which has trained a number of other young girls to success in the game, including Maria Sharapova and Daniela Hantuchova.

It remains a sad fact that Kournikova was never able to win a title on the professional tour, and is somewhat surprising considering her early promise. When she was 14, Anna became the youngest ever winner of a Fed Cup match. Not only that, she became world junior number 1 in 1995, on the way picking up a number of junior titles including the Italian Open and the European Championships.

Initially, her success seemed to continue in 1995 when she took the big step up in turning professional. In the following two years, Kournikova would reach the fourth round of the US Open, and stunning the tennis world when she advanced to the semi-finals at Wimbledon on her first ever outing on the famous London grass.

This early period of her career was also to be the pinnacle of it too. Despite being in the top ten female tennis players in the world for a number of years, Anna was never to win a singles title. Like Hantuchova, her only taste of Grand Slam victory was to come in doubles at Wimbledon, where she won the Ladies Doubles title at Wimbledon with Martina Hingis, who ironically had been the one who beat her in that semi-final appearance in the singles version of the game.

Anna Kournikova

All too quickly though, Kournikova began slipping further and further down the rankings. She was criticised by many who suggested her slump in form was due to her ever-increasing photoshoots and modelling obligations not leaving enough time to practice her game. Whatever the reason, all the media hype surrounding her must have been a huge distraction. After falling to 70th place in the rankings, Kournikova decided to retire from the game that had catapulted her to celebrity status. Nowadays, Anna has a celebrity love interest in the form of singer Enrique Inglesias, and in 2005 became the fitness guru for Elle magazine, as well as continuing her lucrative modelling career.

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