this topic has been exhaustively covered. most people agree that Anna needs to get herself a proper coach. she is under a lot of pressure now with Adidas' latest stand. perhaps this will force her to turn things around. it's becoming more than a tad embarrassing for her as well as her sponsors. here's the info in case u missed it.
Kournikova's sponsors finally discover that beauty will only ever be skin deep
Thursday April 4, 2002
It took two reporters to produce the 200 words that delivered the following news in yesterday's Sun: Anna Kournikova has been told by her sponsors to start winning a few games. Two hacks for that job. Presumably one was required to conjure up the requisite half-dozen sentences while the other applied a cooling balm to his colleague's forehead as he flicked through the paper's back catalogue of Anna snaps for inspiration. But that is the effect Kournikova has; the ordinary rules don't apply.
Take economics. Professional sport is reckoned the most ruthlessly elitist market known to modern man. Win and the riches of Croesus (or David Beckham as he is now known) rain down on your heavily sponsored new haircut. Lose and you end up Halifaxed: battered, bereft and heading for bankruptcy.
Unless, that is, you are Anna Kournikova. By any standard she is a modest tennis player. In a sport in which even a serial choker such as Tim Henman can expect to pick up at least the Wyoming Open and the Cairns All-Comers Pro-Am every year, she boasts a record in singles of zero tournament wins.
Her best-ever performance was losing a Wimbledon semi in 1997. In fact so ordinary is she, the only surprise is that she is not British. Yet despite her so-far undistinguished career she earns some £6.5m each year in deals with companies anxious to be associated with her photogenic frame. This is the sportswoman who has happened upon the cheery financial equation previously thought to have been mastered only by the chief executives of privatised utilities: it doesn't matter how useless your performance, the money keeps rolling in.
Until now, that is. Now, according to the breathless twosome at the Sun, Adidas, the principal provider of her booty, is demanding a little return for its outlay. It wants the reflected glory of Anna atop the winner's podium clutching some silverware, rather than being snapped astride a motorbike clutching some Latino hunk. It wants small girls across the globe to pester their parents into buying a certain brand of footwear in the belief that it will help them win something. Not to be linked with a player so deep down the world rankings you need breathing equipment just to locate her name.
The woman herself will no doubt argue that - wins or no wins - she earns her corn. Public relations executives calculate that a mention in editorial copy is roughly five times more valuable to a brand than advertising. A picture is worth even more. And, thanks largely to the attentions of the British tabloids, Kournikova is undoubtedly the most photographed brand model in world sport. At last year's Wimbledon the Daily Star made contingency plans in the likely event that its heroine would fail to proceed beyond the opening knockabout and printed a picture of her every day throughout the tournament anyway, complete with a corny caption about terrific drop shots.
Quite when self-parody crosses the line into self-abuse is clearly not something that worries the publishers of the Star, but even so Kournikova provided her patrons on that occasion with acres of newsprint. Add to that the calendars, the posters and the appearances in the gossip columns, and she could claim to be pulling her perfectly formed weight.
Besides, this is a game her sponsors know inside out: in the opening rounds of every grand slam she is decked out in the latest of sporting haute couture, always tailored to her curves, in the certain knowledge it will occupy every tabloid front page the following morning.
The trouble is, in the end, that being the world's favourite screensaver is not as helpful to her sponsors' ambitions to shift more product as winning occasionally. Are the million one-handed web browsers who boot up to her image every day, for instance, aware of the revolutionary moisture-wicking ClimaLite fabric which has been used in the construction of her latest on-court playsuit with half-zip tank? Worse, are they even remotely bothered that her revolutionary sports bra with Coolmax technology that reduces breast movement by 56% is made by Berlei?
Kournikova did her best to buck the trend, but it appears normal service has been resumed. In the end, in sport, Adam Smith rules of economics will always apply: to the victor the spoils. Which is why, in this ultimate meritocracy, while the most photogenic practitioner around is facing a financial ultimatum, the queue outside Ruud van Nistelrooy's agent's office currently stretches round the block. The bloke may look like Tony McCoy's latest mount, but he is unquestionably that most sought-after of sporting products: a winner.