Anna Sergeyevna Kournikova (Russian: А́нна Серге́евна Ку́рникова, IPA: [ˈanːə sʲɪrˈɡʲejɪvnə ˈkurnʲɪkəvə] (About this soundlisten); born 7 June 1981) is a Russian former professional tennis player and American television personality. Her appearance and celebrity status made her one of the best known tennis stars worldwide. At the peak of her fame, fans looking for images of Kournikova made her name one of the most common search strings on Google Search.
Despite never winning a singles title, she reached No. 8 in the world in 2000. She achieved greater success playing doubles, where she was at times the world No. 1 player. With Martina Hingis as her partner, she won Grand Slam titles in Australia in 1999 and 2002, and the WTA Championships in 1999 and 2000. They referred to themselves as the “Spice Girls of Tennis”.
Kournikova retired at the age of 21 due to serious back and spinal problems, including a herniated disk. She lives in Miami Beach, Florida, and played in occasional exhibitions and in doubles for the St. Louis Aces of World Team Tennis before the team folded in 2011. 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.
2004–present: Exhibitions and World Team Tennis
Kournikova at a USO-sponsored tour at Forward Operating Base Sharana on 15 December 2009
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 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 in 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.
Kournikova plays right-handed with a two-handed backhand. She is a great 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.