Anna Cournikova - best star

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Tennis career


 Between ages 13 and 14, Kournikova made headlines in international junior tennis, winning several tournaments including the 1995 Italian Open. She was 14 years old when she ended 1995 as Junior European Champion Under 18 and ITF Junior World Champion Under 18.

Kournikova debuted in professional tennis at age 14 in the Fed Cup for Russia, the youngest player ever to participate and win. At age 15, she reached the fourth round of the 1996 U.S. Open, only to be stopped by then-top ranked player, Steffi Graf.

Kournikova was a member of the Russian delegation to the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. In 1997, as a 16-year-old, she reached the semi-finals of Wimbledon, where she lost to the eventual champion, Martina Hingis by a score of 6-3, 6-2. 1998 was her breakthrough year, when she broke into the WTA's top 20 rankings for the first time and scored impressive victories over Martina Hingis, Lindsay Davenport, and Steffi Graf. 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 #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 #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. As a player, Kournikova was noted for her footspeed and aggressive baseline play; however, her flat, high-risk groundstrokes tended to produce high numbers of errors and her serve was sometimes unreliable in singles. 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. 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, Roddick, and Chris Evert.

Kournikova was also a member of the Newport Beachbreakers in the World Team Tennis (WTT) competition in July and November 2005, playing doubles only. In November 2005, she teamed up with Martina Hingis, playing against Lisa Raymond and Samantha Stosur in the WTT finals for charity.

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.

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