She was the young nymphet, the minx on court who seduced the fans with her dazzling blonde beauty.
She was the Lolita, the male spectator’s fantasy, who seemed to sound the siren call , the ‘come hither’ every time she stepped on court.
She was the young upstart, the agent provocateur, who stirred up a storm of protests when she was rewarded with center court at Wimbledon ahead of her fellow—much higher ranked—players on the WTA tour. Wimbledon broke tradition for her justifying their decision saying that they were giving the paying public what they wanted.
She was one of a handful of players who graduated from the Nick Bollettieri tennis academy.
She was the precursor of women tennis players as we know them now, where the ability to market oneself, look good for the camera, and be calorie conscious is as important as the ability to dish out forehand winners and pulverizing two-handed backhands.
She led a bevy of Russian beauties into WTA ranks, an influx that shows signs of becoming an overwhelming and unending assault at the pinnacle of women’s tennis.
She was the trend-setter who made modeling and women’s tennis synonymous.
She was one of the top search terms when Google was just another search engine.
She was the one who showed that it was no longer required to be a winner on the court to be a victor off it.
She was just the second player in the Open era to make the semi-finals at Wimbledon on her debut.
She has been linked to two ice hockey players and a world-famous pop star.
She was considered to be among the hottest female athletes when the smartest women tennis players were Steffi Graf , Chris Evert . Martina Hingis ,and Gabriela Sabatini . Hingis took a cue from her and jazzed up her image in order to not appear to be just another tennis frump.
She was the one whose outfit made more news than her game.
She was among the earliest tennis female stars to have their own website.
She was and is Anna Kournikova ; she was and is a sports icon.
Tennis historians will not be kind to her though. She never won a singles Grand Slam and her career was cut short by a series of back injuries. It did not help that she appeared to have been carried away by all the hype and hoopla surrounding her off-court fame and lucre that on-court success was corollary to her entourage and to her.
Her best singles Grand Slam result remains her SF appearance at the 1997 Wimbledon championship, her debut appearance on the hallowed lawns.
Her best Grand Slam results were the Australian Open doubles crowns in 1999 and 2002 with Martina Hingis as her partner.
But all this probably leaves Kournikova untouched! Her motto seems to be to live life queen size , to hell with posterity!
Like her, love her, hate her, damn her but you can never ignore her!
Anna Kournikova, you are one of a kind!