- 10:25 AM, Feb 25
Anna Sergeyevna Kournikova is probably the only tennis player who has successfully developed her career beyond tennis court by establishing herself in the entertainment industry. This appealing young athlete has turned to be the first Russian beauty to conquer the tennis world, gaining a large fans with her dazzling look, along with photographers behind who follow her dynamic activities either on the court or beyond. She is one of the tennis stars who has been signed by major sport brands, like Adidas, and wonderfully made herself as a celebrity. Thus, it is reasonable to state that she is perhaps the best-known tennis player among people who aren't fans of this kind of sport.
Being encouraged to be involved in sport, Anna's interest in playing tennis has grown since she was merely a child, supported by her father, Sergei Kournikov, who was a tennis instructor and a professor at the University of Physical Culture and Sport in Moscow. Born on June 7, 1981, in Moscow, Russia, she entered Spartak Tennis Club at 7 after starting to swing her tennis racket at Soklniki Park Tennis Club. Her talent was noticed by a notable Russian trainer, Larissa Preobrazhenskaya, who later coached her. "In our first group of children, Anna was the one who didn't give up at once." Preobrazhenskaya recalled, "Some of the other girls ran and jumped better than she did, but little Anna couldn't stay in second place. When I saw that, I offered to train her."
In 1991, Anna was playing in a junior tournament when an International Management Group (IMG) agent named Paul Theofanous witnessed her performance. Realizing her potentiality, Theofanus offered her to sign contract with the group, thus in the following year, accompanied by her mother Alla Kournikov, Anna headed to Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton, Florida, U.S. It took only two years for Anna to prove her gifted ability as she won some "18's" tournaments, the tennis competition for players at age 18 or younger. She continued scoring more triumphs during 1995, winning Orange Bowl, Italian Open Junior, and Junior European Championships, marking the year by being the ITF Junior World Champion.
Her decision to advance as a professional player in 1996 only showed a clear evidence of her true proficiency for she became the winner of ITF Women's Circuit Satellite event in Rockford, Illinois, as well as in Midland, Michigan, U.S. Furthermore, she made