Beauty is as beauty does, and Anna K. doesn't -
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post #1 of 30 (permalink) Old Jul 30th, 2002, 01:11 PM Thread Starter
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Beauty is as beauty does, and Anna K. doesn't


Don't hate Anna Kournikova because she's beautiful. Not unless you're using a sliding scale.

Elizabeth Hurley is beautiful. Halle Berry is beautiful. But if you throw the word around too freely, it loses its meaning ľ the way "genius" does when applied to football coaches or "svelte" when applied to sportswriters.

Anna Kournikova is nice-looking, but she's no closer to beautiful than she is to winning Wimbledon. She's got that bouncy blond thing going for her, good skin and copious curves, but she's more packaging than content. If it weren't for the makeup, the stylists and the clingy clothes, her face would be hard-pressed to launch more than 950 ships.

She's gorgeous by the standards of professional tennis, which is like saying Tony Danza is a great actor for a guy who should be bagging groceries.

Yet if Kournikova's looks excite jealousy and create controversy, it's not because she's so much better looking than her fellow players, but because her celebrity bears no relation to her competitive results. The Internet's most downloaded athlete begins play in the Acura Classic today at La Costa as the world's 47th-ranked female tennis player. She has won exactly zero WTA Tour singles titles, but is probably the biggest star on the circuit.

She has become a cultural symbol of style over substance, the embodiment of glamour in a game that demands grit. Among less charitable minds, Kournikova is a pretty little joke whose every endorsement and modeling contract serves to trivialize more serious women athletes. When Fox's Rob Zimmerman sought to disparage MSNBC's Ashleigh Banfield, he called her, "the Anna Kournikova of TV news."

That Kournikova's first-round meeting with 30th-ranked Alexandra Stevenson is being promoted on the Acura Classic's Web site as today's featured match is a reflection of our tastes rather than Kournikova's talent.

Sex sells. Superb ground strokes have a more limited appeal. An Internet search yesterday found links to 43 Kournikova Web sites, including "Adorable Anna Kournikova," "Amazingly Adorable Anna," "Lovely Anna" and "Anna Kournikova ľ the Goddess of Tennis." A similar search for Serena Williams ľ the world's top-ranked player ľ turned up only 10 sites, none of them predicated on her appearance.

Serena Williams' 2002 accomplishments include the French Open and Wimbledon singles titles. The biggest news Kournikova has made in the past year was in debunking a Penthouse pictorial that purported to show her topless.

"It's disturbing to see this emphasis on the objectified body as opposed to the active body," says former cyclist Laura Robinson, author of 'Black Tights: Women, Sport and Sexuality.' "Anna Kournikova will never make it as an athlete because she puts so much time into being a sex fantasy. Good athletes train two to three times a day and have little time for anything else."

While it's unclear exactly how much time Kournikova spends on her game, the clear consensus is that it's not enough. After Kournikova's first-round exit at Wimbledon, John McEnroe captured the prevailing cynicism about her play in a single, caustic sentence: "It's time for some serious reassessment and some serious practice." McEnroe, never one for understatement, also alleged Kournikova's nerves were shot, her confidence was gone and her conditioning was poor.

"I'm sure Anna would trade the publicity and glamour for a tournament win," echoed Chris Evert. "She has to start taking some responsibility for her tennis career. If she wants to make a success of it, she needs to get hungry and put tennis ahead of making videos and posing for magazine covers. She's gone to another level and people are obsessed with her looks, and that's dangerous territory."

The extent of that danger depends, at least in part, on your perspective. Evert was driven to chase championships. Kournikova may have a different motivation. Not every player can presume to be No. 1, though Kournikova appeared to have that potential when she stormed into the 1997 Wimbledon semifinals in just her fourth Grand Slam event.

Maybe our expectations of her exceed her ability as a tennis player. Maybe her tournament record is a reflection of her relative skill (and/or injuries) rather than her lack of commitment to her craft. Maybe she never was quite as good as she looked.

Friday, after a straight-sets loss to Venus Williams at Stanford, Kournikova believed she had made a breakthrough.

"I actually felt like I was in control on some of the points," she said. "That's a great step for me."

Progress, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

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post #2 of 30 (permalink) Old Jul 30th, 2002, 01:22 PM
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Another journalist who doesn't know what he's talking about.

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post #3 of 30 (permalink) Old Jul 30th, 2002, 01:42 PM
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ANNA ANNA ANNA............ always ANNA!!

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post #4 of 30 (permalink) Old Jul 30th, 2002, 02:02 PM
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Sounds like he knows what he's talking about to me, except for the part of knowing how much she trains. Only she and her coach knows that.

I also agree that if it weren't for tennis we would not be seeing anna k at all. she is not supermodel beautiful, she does not have acting talent, so really what you have is:

pretty girl + major sport = anna kornikova

yes she deserves all her contracts and endorsements but no one will really take her seriously again until she shows some results.

I mean come on! With all her talent and she hasnt won a title? Even you die hard anna fans must have some confusion or questions about that, dont you? Unless all you care about is seeing her on the next magazine cover or tv commercial, then I guess it doesnt matter at all.

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post #5 of 30 (permalink) Old Jul 30th, 2002, 03:30 PM
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Of course Anna's fans have concerns about her lack of titles etc.

But this guy doesn't know what he's talking about. He doesn't acknowledge that Anna's ranking dropped (just after the Oz Open) to the high 90s as a result of her injury and that she's been able to climb 50-odd places since then, despite all her problems this year. The injury was squarely the reason her ranking plummeted from the top 10 to almost out of the top 100. She's now probably on her way back to a ranking in the top 20 to 30 by early next year, though it won't be easy for her.

You'd never know any of this from the article, and the writer either doesn't know or is hiding it from us.

FWIW we'll see where Anna gets to in ranking once she's ranked high enough to be seeded in the slams again. Whether she's good enough to reach top 10 again is an open question in my mind.

The writer's remarks about training are totally wrong... and the gist of the article is that Anna's problems are from lack of commitment. There is no basis to that at all. She's one of the most committed players on the tour in the sense of a heavy training and playing schedule... maybe too much so if anything.

The quote from Robinson is cheap. Here we have a former athlete wanting to sojnd like a big-shot academic cultural critic blathering about "the objectified body"... evidently based on total ignorance of Anna's work schedule, because there is certainly no connection between the facts and the remarks attributed to her.

Take out the nasty opinions (but he's entitled to them, ho hum) about Anna's physical beauty, or lack of it, and there is nothing there in the article that is true and substantial.

Please, give the fans of Anna who are here a break. We discuss her problems at all-too-obsessive length among ourselves (usually on another board). We're not idiots. But this writer's diagnosis is ignorant and destructive, and I for one will contest it vigorously. I am just fed up with seeing articles like this by journos who see the opportunity for a quick, cliched hatchet job on Anna every time she plays in a different city.

As some people here know, I am, among other things, a freelance writer myself. I am not a sports writer and don't claim the degree of technical expertise that a lot of other people here have which would give me credibility if I wrote professionally about sport.

But I could produce something with a lot more credibility and integrity than this garbage. It's the kind of thing that brings journalists into disrepute, at least in my eyes.

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post #6 of 30 (permalink) Old Jul 30th, 2002, 03:39 PM
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Anna's trouble began a few years back when the media made her looks bigger than her game. I really don't blame her, she was young; all of that attention would be hard to resist for most of us regardless of age. A coach, her parents, someone should have stepped in to help her focus on her game. Don't get me wrong; she would be a fool not to take the loot; if those advertising folks want to give her millions --- take it. But, she could have had the money and the game. Now, a few years later, I think she is starting to realize this; now she wants the slams more than the fame and bucks. She had the talent but it does not seem was putting in the work to develop it. Is it too late for Anna? I hope not. I hope she proves her naysayers wrong unlss she is playing against V & S, of course.
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post #7 of 30 (permalink) Old Jul 30th, 2002, 03:54 PM
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Originally posted by sherry
She had the talent but it does not seem was putting in the work to develop it.
she was putting in the work. but the work wasnt concentrated in the right place to harness that talent she does have. it was just a lack of direction before. she was working hard, but more or less treading water with her improvement.

now i think all this has changed with the hiring of solomon. i think he knows what he has to do and what he has to get anna to do in order to improve her game. anna's mother was never going to be able to do this.

the biggest mistake anna made IMO was not having a coach from the moment she made her comeback from injury.
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post #8 of 30 (permalink) Old Jul 30th, 2002, 04:05 PM
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One of the worst and most needless articles I've ever read about anybody!

And one thing you can't queation about Anna is her work ethic. Anna Kournikova is known to have been a very hard worker since day one of her career. The other players know this and say Anna is one of the hardest workers out there. So it's just another media creation that Anna is lazy and doesn't work hard in practice. It's all so laughable! But sad, too.

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post #9 of 30 (permalink) Old Jul 30th, 2002, 04:38 PM
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I've been saying this for years, she's cute and a discredit to the concept of female athlete...just an opinion but glad to see mine is shared by at least one other or yeah make that four others.
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post #10 of 30 (permalink) Old Jul 30th, 2002, 04:55 PM
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Great article, thanks for posting it. I have always seen Anna as an attractive, sexy girl... but NOT beautiful or in the league of any of the great beauties (Liz Taylor, Garbo, Halle Berry etc etc). Sure she has a sexy body, great hair and legs to die for, but she has a somewhat pudgy, cheeky face and her eyes are close-set.

Chris Evert and John McEnroe are right. If Anna wants to 'save face' in terms of tennis, she needs some results. She has talent and she can move wonderfully on the court. Her doubles results prove she can volley. She needs to do SOMETHING!
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post #11 of 30 (permalink) Old Jul 30th, 2002, 06:02 PM
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post #12 of 30 (permalink) Old Jul 30th, 2002, 06:06 PM
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I think is Anna is beautiful, how can one man speak for the rest of us...?

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post #13 of 30 (permalink) Old Jul 30th, 2002, 06:25 PM
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I think it's really too late for Anna to save face in terms of tennis. People can get upset all they want about articles such as these, but it only reflects what most people (including myself) feel about Anna--that being that she's a joke. Even if she wins a title, will that change anything? Probably not. I mean it still will have taken her over 100 tries to do so, and people reading the headline would probably laugh at her for that alone. Perhaps the only way she could be taken seriously as a tennis players would be for her to win a Grand Slam. That's something most reasonable people realize is virtually impossible.

I've always felt that Anna's cute, but also that she ISN'T close to being beautiful (ie, Cindy Crawford, Halle, etc). I considered the possibility of her being a good tennis player given all the hype I read about her when she came onto the scene. Now, I don't see her as being talented. The one thing I will give her credit for is being a smart business woman (or at least for having smart business people around her), because there are a whole lot of women more beautiful than Anna, and also a whole lot of tennis players more talented than Anna--none of whom will make nearly the amount Anna's earns in interest alone.

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post #14 of 30 (permalink) Old Jul 31st, 2002, 12:06 AM
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Everyone says that Anna works very hard. It's NOT about how MUCH you work. Most people work all their lives and get nowhere. It IS about HOW you work.
I do the 200m for my athletics club, and I work damn hard to improve my time. But I could do swimming training instead. I'd still be working hard, but I be working on the wrong thing, because I'm a 200m runner.
It's not about how MUCH you work. It's about HOW you work.
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post #15 of 30 (permalink) Old Jul 31st, 2002, 12:30 AM
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Bright Red,

I cannot believe I am defending Anna Kournikova (what's the world coming to?) but I have to disagree. If she gets the results, consistent tour wins that I am sure she is somewhat capable of, we will all give her a little credit and lose the 'joke' moniker. Time heals all wounds and does remarkable things for one's memory and perceptions, esp journalists. I seriously doubt she will ever be a consistent title winner, like Henin, but there is a slight possibility. And if she ever wins a slam...oy vey! Now I gotta say FAT CHANCE to that, but who the hell knows?
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